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Hearing aid provision: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help


Hearing aids for adults can be obtained in 2 separate ways:-

  1. N.H.S. - via referral from your G.P. to a local E.N.T. Department.
  2. Privately - directly from a Registered Hearing Aid Dispenser.

These options will be looked at in more detail later in this section.

A brief overview of the main types of technology available

Mr J Caton

Analogue Uses conventional technology - microphone receiver, amplifier, user volume control. Generally work quite well in quiet situations but are less effective in background noise.
Programmable Analogue Multi programme aids controlled either by a push button on the aid or by remote control. Programmes can be set for different listening situations e.g. prog. 1 for listening in quiet, prog. 2 for listening in noise. There is also usually a facility for the user to adjust the volume. These aids are more versatile than basic analogue aids and can be programmed to give better results in noisy situations.
Digital Patients' hearing levels are programmed into a microchip within the aid. Incoming sounds are constantly analyzed compared to the hearing loss and the output is regulated to keep incoming speech clear even in high levels of background noise. Some digital aids have more than one programme or a user control to increase flexibility although in most cases this is not necessary. In most instances digital aids give the best results, there is no amplifier noise and the response is usually very clear even in background noise.

Types of hearing aids

All hearing aids contain some custom made part which is manufactured from impressions taken of the ear using silicone material. Aids can be provided in various sizes using either analogue or digital technology. They are battery powered and the batteries need replacing at regular intervals between 8 days and 30 days depending on battery size and aid power.

Behind the ear (B.E.) aid Can be fitted to all levels of hearing loss. The aid itself is not custom made but is chosen from within a range of models to match the hearing loss as closely as possible. The aid fits behind the ear and sound is channelled into the ear via a tube supported by a custom made earmould.
Modular in the ear (I.T.E.) A standard aid module clips into a custom made ear shell which fits inside the ear. Suitable for mild to moderate losses, cosmetically quite visible.
Full Shell in the ear (I.T.E.) Custom made aid individually built for user. It fits inside the ear and is suitable for most types of hearing loss, cosmetically quite visible.
Half Shell in the ear (I.T.E.) As above but less visible.
In the Canal (I.T.C.) Custom made individually built. Suitable for mild to moderate losses. Fits in the ear canal, cosmetically quite discreet.
Completely in the Canal (C.I.C.)