Our audiologists work hard to try to find exactly the right hearing aid for their patients. But not everyone has the same priorities.
As our senior audiologist Sally French says: “What is more important to you, how the hearing aid looks or how it sounds or sometimes both?
Behind-the-ear, receiver-in-the-ear, in-the-canal, open fit or closed fit? So many choices and so many styles.
About 20 years ago I had a patient come to see me at The Chaucer Hospital who really couldn’t afford a private hearing aid but could no longer stay on the NHS waiting list.
He needed the cheapest possible hearing aid and that meant that we had to compromise on the aids’ performance. So we decided to go for bright red behind-the-ear hearing aids and in those days they were the size of a caterpillar, not the small things we have today. We fitted them to bright blue moulds. Six months later he came back for his review appointment and he told me that he loved his hearing aids.
I asked him to tell me about his experiences and he told me that sometimes he couldn’t afford to put batteries in his aids! I couldn’t believe that he had been wearing aids with no batteries, didn’t he feel bunged up with them in. But he corrected me and said that as other people could see his bright hearing aids they then spoke more clearly and directly to him so even without the batteries he was hearing better!
My favourite hearing aid
I’ve had patients come to see me that only wanted the smallest, most invisible hearing aids possible and that sometimes meant that they had to have smaller batteries which needed changing more often, or very deep hearing aids that blocked the ears but they loved them because they were discreet.
My personal favourite style of hearing aid is the receiver-in-the-ear open fit. They can be fitted to a great range of hearing losses, come in the colours of the rainbow and give a clear, natural sound to the patient but is it the best? No. The best hearing aid is the right one for that individual.
Every patient we see has wildly different hearing losses, different lifestyles, different budgets and different wants, so the ‘best’ hearing aid is the one that fits all of these needs and at the end of the day if they don’t love it then we will keep trying for them until we find one that they do love.
Oh and for the patient that struggled to afford the batteries we gave him free ones from then onwards.