Tinnitus and other hearing issues

By | Internet of things

‘I have tinnitus noise in my head / ear / ears’
The advice you are given is of paramount importance. Try to select an audiologist with tinnitus therapy / tinnitus management / tinnitus matching skills. They will often mention / advertise this in their literature. Generally speaking, most forms of tinnitus are ‘camouflaged’ successfully with hearing aids. A higher than expected level of amplification is often needed. trial and error is the key. Make sure (I know I keep saying this) you get a free trial. Tinnitus matching programmes are now routinely fitted on Phonak products.

‘I have tinnitus – that is my main concern ( this overrides hearing problem)’
It is commonly understood that hearing aids are the easiest technological way to mask tinnitus. I am not a fan of ‘maskers’ but now there are hearing aids with tinnitus masking natural sounds included in their features:
PHONAK B

‘I can only hear in one ear’
A revolution in how this problem can be addressed occurred in 2013.
The PHONAK CROS B RECHARGEABLE has given some spectacular outcomes. Get a demo of this as soon as you can. It is without doubt my favourite hearing device.

‘I have ongoing ear infection / discharge’
Assuming your ear drums are intact, and you have seen your ENT consultant recently AND you already wear/ own NHS aids, try the following:
Any RIC aid (because the domes can be changed regularly)
Any BTE with mould (because the moulds can be renewed with spares)
Consider a remote control or volume control (to alter your amplification if and when your hearing level changes / fluctuates).

‘I have perforated eardrums’
If the perforation is recent, large in size or causing you discomfort, do not buy aids with domes (thin wire or thin tube open fit aids). These can be used in some cases. Your audiologist can advise you better once your ears have been examined.
Good results can be achieved so long as the fitting is accurate.
On a budget, try PHONAK Q30 in the ear, with wax guard removed.
If your loss is very severe, for a pretty good aesthetic look, try the OTICON OPN PP (in any version) with a canal-micro mould. If profound, try the OTICON SUMO DM with silicone moulds (with back-up moulds made at the same time).

Are you sceptical about hearing aids?

By | Internet of things

Scenarios:

‘I have bought privately before and am very wary’
You need to explore your options very carefully. A FREE TRIAL is what you need.

‘I think private hearing aids and batteries cost a fortune?’
Not necessarily. Have a look at the audiology companies online that list complete product price lists.
For batteries etc, you should buy them on an accessory website: such as www.hearingaidparts.co.uk

‘I have or had a particular make (of hearing aid) in mind’
Keep an open mind. In my experience, consumers who ask for a specific make have usually been unduly influenced by a less-than-independent opinion and over-the-top marketing. Many audiology retailer practices are now owned by individual manufacturers, and so they do not offer a truly Independent opinion. Which magazine’s articles in 2014 / 2016 / 2018 found that independent practices were the most likely to give you the best overall service.

Why read our website

By | Consumer

The latest insider opinion on 2018/2019 hearing aid systems:
If you have decided to do something about your hearing problem… and maybe you’ve already had a consultation and quote, then read this now before you decide…
This Blog expresses the latest opinion of a senior Audiologist, R J Donnan, and of 3 of his patients, who kindly offer to test out new hearing aids. The idea is to critique the hearing aids themselves, and not the provider or the service.
The Best Advice we can offer you:
The No.1 item on any hearing-impaired person’s shopping list should be a FREE TRIAL.

FAQ


Are you curious about whether modern hearing aid advances will allow you to hear better?
and ‘I am waiting for an NHS appointment and thought I’d explore my options…’
You may be better to give the NHS aids a fair try first. Wearing hearing aids for the first time is often not as straight-forward as you’d think. So as the NHS aids are free, see how you get on with those first. And give yourself a few months at least to practise / adapt.

‘I have never worn aids before and my hearing loss is fairly recent…’
Do your research first. If you do decide you want to explore the possibility of private hearing aids, book a minimum two consultations. Maybe a large retailer (Boots are the No.1 retailer in the UK), an established small or medium Independent Audiologist (maybe a bit more expensive than elsewhere). You could check prices online through an internet company who lists exact models with prices on their website.

‘I want the latest technology’
Then try the PHONAK AUDEO B90 10, the OTICON OPN 1 or the RESOUND LiNX QUATTRO, the first is very small, the other two are ‘made for iPhone’ hearing systems (The Apple device can stream audio to both ears, and you’ll have an app to work as a clever remote control and interactive tool). The three aids are RIC type and very light and neat.

‘I love gadgets / Bluetooth connections to my media devices sounds appealing’
The RESOUND LiNX QUATTRO, the first ‘made for iPhone’ hearing system is the obvious one if you own an iPad / iPhone.
OTHERS to consider:
PHONAK AUDEO B90 DIRECT allowing the user to take hands-free calls straight to the hearing aid.
OTICON OPN 1 Made for iPhone.

‘I want the best and smallest’
The leading top-of-the-range hearing aid right now is the PHONAK AUDEO B90 10. You should try this first. It has a slightly sharp / ‘hi-fi’ sound quality that will suit most wearers. Phonak’s market share in the UK is the largest.
if money is no object (circa £17,000 per 5 years), consider the LYRIC 3.

‘I want what I actually need’
Then try the PHONAK AUDEO V50 10. It is less pricey than the higher spec. and newer models.
If you are working to a tight budget, try these:
Phonak V30
Oticon Opn 3
Resound Linx Quattro 5

‘I want to spend as little as possible’
There are many really good hearing aids out there that are still of exceptionally good quality, technology and specification (think of a iPhone 6 compared to a 8). Phonak’s 2015 Chipset (Quest range) is still offered – the PHONAK Q30 is inexpensive but highly effective in the CIC and ITC shells AND it comes in a high power version too.

‘I am completely open-minded about this, so long as I end up hearing better’
Be careful, you may end up being ‘too grateful’ as soon as you can hear better. You may end up spending far more than you should.

‘I’d like no-one to see my aids’
Be aware that tiny hearing aids fitted into the ear canal will often cause some occlusion, which is the side-effect of hearing your own voice too much. Always ask for a demo or a FREE trial first!
An easy choice here, the PHONAK VIRTO B IIC (in 50, 70 or 90 version). Most manufacturers claim to build invisible hearing aids, but in reality, they seldom are able to. Phonak’s track record and success with invisible aids is convincing.

New / recent hearing aid wearers:
‘I have NHS aids and I want something smaller / neater’
This is a fairly common scenario these days. Be aware that different CCGs have differing types of hearing aid and that things are changing all the time.
Sometimes it pays to complain a little.
Don’t think that just because your friend (who lives in another area, or who got his / her hearing aids at a different time) has smaller hearing aids, that you will be able to walk in to your NHS audiology department and ask for the same (but you CAN request you are given a hearing appointment at a hospital that is NOT in your immediate area).
Most people wanting smaller (or easier to handle) hearing aids will end up going private. However, most hearing aid wearers have had 1 or 2 negative experiences before they get a satisfactory outcome.
SPECSAVERS offer low cost in-the-ear aids, as do a few independents. If you heard really well with your NHS aids, maybe this will be adequate for you?

‘I have NHS aids and I need something easier to handle’
Again, assuming you heard very well with your NHS aids, go for the PHONAK Q30 ITC or CIC, available in standard and high-power strengths. its inexpensive and you’ll love the feel, look and weight of it compared to your NHS aids. There are reliability issues with in-the-ear aids so make sure you enquire about ongoing after care with your chosen provider. Some will give a 4 or even 5 year warranty with the Q30.

‘I have Danalogic iFit aids and I doubt there is anything better’
This hearing aid was designed to be sold by mail-order, hence the name (iFit, ‘I fit it myself’), so on one level, you have responded very well to an inexpensive hearing aid. That means you are likely to get on well with any hearing aid.
If you want an RIC aid, the Phonak V30 10 will perform superbly in background noise for most wearers. Or an in the ear smaller option; try the PHONAK Q30.
If you want to see a difference that technology alone can make, why not try the RESOUND LiNX Quattro 9 (made by the same Company that owns the Danalogic brand) on a FREE TRIAL?

‘My hearing loss is severe and I want in-the-ear’
The great news is that in the last 4 years it has become relatively straight-forward to manage a severe hearing loss with virtually any hearing aid configuration ~ that’s because the feedback control (prevention of whistling by the computer chip in the hearing aid) has become so good on some models.
Try the PHONAK B Series
Budget: PHONAK DALIA POWER CIC

‘My hearing loss is profound’
You need to be extremely cautious when looking at private hearing aids. Your expectation level will often outstrip the potential benefits. Assuming you have fairly new NHS aids already, then the main benefits of ‘going private’ should be ~ the availability of service and fine tuning visits, the increased frequency of mould and tubing replacements and one-to-one advice about assistive devices in the home, at church, etc.
However, it is fair enough to seek a technological improvement, but I’d say ONLY if your provider is willing to give you a lengthy FREE TRIAL.
High Power aids we recommend:
OTICON Sumo (1st choice)
OTICON Dynamo 4
RESOUND ENZO

‘My relative doesn’t accept they have a hearing loss’
Private hearing practices are ideal places to take relatives with low motivation. Private Hearing Care Professionals tend to be highly motivated, professional and persuasive ~ that being the requirements of the job!
So long as you don’t buy on impulse or force your relative into something they don’t want, then they’ll end up in a better place. Your point will have been proven and reinforced by an audiologist. From then on, it should be easier to get your relative to take positive action, either by going to their GP and asking for a ENT / Audiology referral or by returning to a private audiologist.

‘I’m not sure I have a hearing loss or not’
Private hearing practices are ideal places to ‘pop in’ for a hearing check (after all, the UK is a highly regulated country in terms of how hearing tests must be performed).
And there are now excellent apps available online where you can test your hearing in the privacy of your own home without even visiting a practice…

How is your after care delivered?

By | Consumer

If I am right that the greater part of getting good value from your hearing aid purchase is the AFTER CARE element, then before you decide, you should check your new supplier for some indicators:

– Are you being offered a free trial before you have to pay anything?
– Is there a cancellation fee if you ask for a refund?
– Are you told to “Call us if you have a problem” OR, is your next appointment pre-booked?
– Is the after care element mentioned and stressed? or is it not?

It is actually our responsibility to ensure that you are:
– capable of using your new hearing aids
– hearing as well as possible in background noise (with the facility for multiple fine-tuning visits included in the price)

Our VAT payment rules account for this, so we can say that two-thirds of the total cost is for after care, and not for the product itself. In effect, if you do not receive superb after care, then you have not got good value.

What’s the difference between NHS and private?

By | Internet of things

So, you should try NHS first -it’s free and you are British.
How and What you get does vary from region to region.

From what I can determine, the main differences are:
TECHNICAL: Thin tube hearing aids are widely distributed via the NHS, whereas Thin wire aids are often smaller and more efficient.
TECHNICAL: In some CCGs, there is a poor selection of dome sizes, and thin tube replacements, but not all.
TECHNICAL: The models used in the NHS MAY be less successful versions already tried in the European market.
AESTHETIC: Thin wire hearing aids are smaller than thin tube.
HOLISTIC: A good private dispenser should spend much more time with you, with fine-tuning.

What is a private hearing aid dispenser?

By | Internet of things

We are all registered by the HCPC. The licence required allows us to prescribe and sell hearing aids in the UK. It’s extremely straight-forward to program hearing aids. Be aware of anyone suggesting that they have additional qualifications.
A related BSc or MSc is of value. As is a doctorate, experience in an ENT department, experience in GP Practice in removing ear wax, or experience in a GPSI ENT practice.
I can say with great conviction that professional experience is very important in grading successful outcomes with hearing aids.
So, proceed with caution if terms used include: Consultant, CEO, Cerumenologist, etc

A 20% drop in prices over the course of 2018

By | Technology | No Comments

Increased competition in the private market will cause further price erosion this year. Start by viewing Specsavers prices as they introduce more manufacturers and lines. Other large providers have some offers, such as Amplifon with the Resound LiNX. Which? magazine suggest visiting a local Independent.
The message is: Do shop around and get at least 2 like-for-like quotes first.