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Hearing aids, also known as hearing devices, come in a wide range of styles and colours and are available at different price points. Most medical aids contribute to the cost of hearing aid amplification. The choice of hearing devices is dependent on each individual’s hearing needs, expectations, hearing loss and budget. While a hearing device can amplify sound, it is far more sophisticated than just an amplifier. Technology has improved in leaps and bounds over the years and we can now expect a great deal more from hearing aids than ever before, particularly regarding speech clarity, hearing in noisy environments and connectivity to cell phones and other devices. Hearing devices today are moving closer to incorporating brain function, making it more effective in amplifying sound for the wearer.
Heidi Allan Audiology supplies all types of hearing aids from various international suppliers including those listed below. We have partnered with these internationally known and acclaimed hearing aid brands to ensure that we offer the best possible range of products to our patients.
Is a hearing aid always recommended?
Absolutely not. The diagnostic hearing assessment, together with the information provided by the patient, allows the audiologist to make the appropriate recommendations such as whether a consultation with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist may be required, whether auditory training is necessary or whether some form of technology may be a solution.
“You know it’s very difficult to be an actor, and to have people depending on you to say the right line, at the right time, and to not be able to hear your cues!”
– Actor Leslie Nielsen
“I can’t tell you how many times I would’ve had to have said What? if I didn’t have my hearing aids. So my hearing aids have allowed me to practice my craft.”
– Actor Leslie Nielsen
Are all hearing aids the same?
A hearing aid is an assistive device registered with SAHPRA and differs significantly from hearing amplifiers that can be sold without any controls or restrictions. Hearing aids range in level of sophistication, speed of processing and automaticity, as well as style and colour. Hearing aids should be fitted by an audiologist who can verify their benefit and functioning and provide on-going support.
How much do hearing aids cost?
Hearing aids vary from less than R10 000 to more than R100 000 per pair with the cost differential largely determined by the sophistication of the microchip inside the hearing aid. The listening needs of the patient, together with the hearing assessment results, will determine which hearing aid is required. This decision is always made in consultation with the patient.
If I get a hearing aid, will my hearing be normal?
Not necessarily. A hearing aid will restore your ability to be aware of sound, but auditory training will help your brain be more receptive to the sounds that you have been missing for a while. A hearing aid improves your access to sound – the body’s hardware, but we still need to support the brain – the software.
“The ability to understand and remember what you hear can affect your ability to have a good life.”
– Dr. Angela Loucks Alexander
“I am a little deaf now. Without my hearing aids in, I miss a lot of peripheral sounds. I had tinnitus too, for a while.”
– Roger Taylor (Drummer with Queen)
How hearing aids work:
Most hearing devices can adjust the sound amplified based on the sound it picks up. Therefore, if it picks up a soft sound, it will be amplified more than a moderate or a loud sound. Depending on where the hearing loss is, the hearing aid can be programmed to provide more high frequency amplification and less low frequency amplification.
Hearing devices can detect sudden noises and compress sounds to prevent the wearer from being surprised by loud noises. They can also identify and reduce continuous background noise. They can differentiate, to an extent, the difference between a speech signal and a noise signal. Furthermore, hearing aids can be set to deal differently with music than with speech or noise. They can be connected to various forms of technology, such as the TV, cell phone or landline, to improve communication through these devices.
However, none of these replace brain function and while the hearing device is an important step in the process to rehabilitating hearing and communication difficulties, what you do to better your processing of auditory information is just as important.
A hearing device has no value without the added benefit of aural rehabilitation. It is like fitting a person who has lost a limb with a prosthetic device and failing to teach them how to use it.
Learning how to effectively use your new hearing device will include adopting new communication strategies, participating in an aural rehabilitation programme, having patience to allow your brain time to adjust to change, persevere when things seem difficult, to realise that you can’t run the Comrades Marathon if you only train for 15 minutes a day and being honest about the improvements that you experience. If the only thing that you dislike about amplification is the sound of your feet on the tiles, that’s not really a significant difficulty, particularly if you are not asking people to repeat themselves as often as before, the television is now turned lower and you are able to participate in conversation around you without putting your foot in it.