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  • Writer's pictureKoorosh Nejad

What to consider before purchasing your new pair of hearing aids?

Updated: 2 hours ago

A long-term user of Oticon ITE hearing aids (in-the-ear) came to my clinic last week and wanted to buy a new pair of hearing aids, this time a pair of RIC (receiver-in-canal). He inspired me to write this article so you can make an informed decision when you want to buy your next pair of new hearing aids. Please feel free to post your questions at the bottom of this article if they are not addressed here.


All you need to know about your next hearing aid

  1. Should I buy ITE or RIC hearing aids? What should I consider when choosing the style of my next hearing aid?

  2. Should I stay with the same brand of hearing aids?

  3. Where are hearing aids being sold over the counter in the UK?

  4. Which are the latest hearing aids in the UK in 2023?

  5. Are cheap hearing aids worth buying?

  6. Is there a downside to wearing hearing aids?

  7. What is a cheap alternative to a hearing aid?

  8. Are more expensive hearing aids better?

  9. Is it best to get hearing aids from an audiologist?

  10. Can I buy hearing aids in a monthly payment plan?

  11. What are the easiest hearing aids to put in?

  12. What type of hearing aid is most popular?

  13. What is the best hearing aid for clarity of speech?

  14. Are cheap hearing aids bad for your ears?

  15. What happens if I don't wear my hearing aids every day?

  16. What level of hearing loss requires a hearing aid?

  17. Will my hearing get worse if I don't wear a hearing aid?

  18. How long does it take for your brain to get used to hearing aids?

  19. Is it better to have one or two hearing aids?

  20. Which hearing aid is better analogue or digital?

  21. What is the most intelligent hearing aid?

  22. What is the most subtle hearing aid?

  23. What type of hearing aids are better for people with dexterity issues?

  24. Do invisible hearing aids support Bluetooth?

  25. Is it OK to wear hearing aids all day?

  26. Can I just buy a hearing aid?

  27. Why are hearing aids so expensive?

  28. Why are some hearing aids more expensive than others?

  29. Why does my hearing aid make everything sound tinny?

  30. What is the common problem with hearing aids?

  31. How many hours a day should I wear hearing aids?

  32. Can hearing aids restore hearing to 100%?

  33. Can hearing aids delay dementia?

  34. How many years does a hearing aid last?

  35. Are hearing aids free for pensioners UK?

  36. Are warranty and aftercare important in buying hearing aids?

  37. How do I know that I need hearing aids?

  38. I inherited a pair of good hearing aids, can I reprogram them for myself?



hearing aid  on sales online on hearingnow store London

Should I buy ITE or RIC hearing aids? What should I consider when choosing the style of my next hearing aid?

The style of hearing aids depends on several factors including the following four:

  1. The level of your hearing loss - The most important factor in the choice of style of your hearing aid is the type and the level of your hearing loss. My advice is to start with a hearing test. ITE and ITC hearing aids are more suitable for people with moderate to severe to profound hearing loss. Invisible CIC and IIC hearing aids are more suitable for moderate-range hearing loss and BTE and RIC would be a better choice for mild to severe to profound hearing loss. There is an overlap among these 3 styles that the rest of the criteria could help decide the best choice of hearing aids for you. Read this article to learn more about custom-made ITC and ITE hearing aids.

  2. Hearing aid technology needed - Generally speaking, you can find the very top-of-the-line speech intelligibility technology in BTE, RIC and ITE hearing aids. These 3 styles do support Bluetooth connectivity and come in battery-powered or rechargeable. The ITC, invisible IIC and CIC are only battery-powered and do not support Bluetooth streaming. They usually come with a lower level of technology.

  3. Comfort and practicality - If you are looking for a pair of hearing aids that you drop in and forget about then you should go for invisible IIC and CIC. They also have a better vanity, and don't interfere with your glasses. the trade-off is that they come only battery-powered and do not support Bluetooth.

  4. Your lifestyle - If you are still quite active in your career and socially then you need the best technology to help hearing better in the presence of background noise. You might also do a lot of Zoom meetings hence need Bluetooth connectivity with your smartphone and your laptop. This group of patients usually choose the best premium RIC hearing aids. On the flip side, if you are the type of person who is mostly at home, your hobbies are gardening and in quiet places, don't need Bluetooth connectivity and you are fine with replacing the batteries of the hearing aids then lower technology levels of RIC, or invisible IIC/CIC would work fine for you.

My best advice is to have a hearing test with a local audiologist and spend ample time trying different brands and different styles of hearing aids until you are happy with your choice.





Should I stay with the same brand of hearing aids?

The short answer is yes. Each of the hearing aid manufacturers has its own sound processing concept and algorithms. That means if you currently wear Phonak hearing aids, when you try a pair of Oticon hearing aids they may sound strange. Your brain is clever and sensitive enough to notice a change in the timbre of the sound. So as a general guideline, it is recommended to stay with the same brand of hearing aids when you buy a new pair. However, by all means, you can switch horses and try a different brand of new hearing aids, just need to be patient for 1-2 months for your brain to get used to the new sound.


Where are hearing aids being sold over the counter in the UK?

OTC or over-the-counter hearing aids became available in the U.S. market at the beginning of 2023. At the time of writing this article, OTC hearing aids are yet to pass local regulatory approval in the UK. Nevertheless, you can purchase hearing aids online in the UK.


Which are the latest hearing aids in the UK?

Most of the major hearing aid manufacturers introduced their latest hearing aid technologies to the market in the first 3 months of 2023. The latest hearing aids introduced in early 2023 include Resound Omnia, Starkey Evolv Ai, and Phonak Lumity.


Are cheap hearing aids worth buying?

You can find amplification devices at 200 to 400 pounds per pair range in the UK market. They are mostly advertised online and aim for lower-end budget buyers. These devices are not hearing aids; they are amplifiers. They are very simple devices that work very similarly to music earbuds. They are not medically approved by health authorities in the UK and are not recommended to be used for people with hearing impairment.


Is there a downside to wearing hearing aids?

Wearing or not wearing hearing aids does not accelerate or decelerate the natural deterioration of your hearing. The natural decay in the human auditory system starts at about age 50 and from there gradually declines every year. Other underlying health issues such as gout, diabetes, vascular problems, chemotherapy (for cancer), using strong antibiotics and other health issues could accelerate the decay.


What is a cheap alternative to a hearing aid?

The best alternative to premium hearing aids in the UK is the hearing aids provided free of charge to the users through NHS. The starting point for obtaining free NHS hearing aids is to contact your GP. If you are on a budget, take a look at our entry-level best NHS+ hearing aids here.





Are more expensive hearing aids better?

The price range of premium hearing aids of different brands is quite similar. Widex hearing aids are often more expensive because of their faster sound processing that enables them to sound so natural (no surprise they are the hearing aid of choice for musicians). The main factor in the price of premium hearing aids is their technology level. As a general direction, my advice as an audiologist is to go for the highest technology level as you get the most benefits that the hearing aid can offer in terms of suppressing the background noise and improving speech understanding in noisy environments. Otherwise, on a limited budget, discuss the features of each technology level with your hearing care professional to make an informed decision. The main factor in choosing the tech level is your lifestyle and how often you are in a situation where you need improved speech intelligibility.


Is it best to buy hearing aids from an audiologist?

Absolutely. There are several benefits when you receive your hearing aids from an audiologist. For start the audiologist would be able to do a comprehensive hearing test for you. Any pathology or severe progressive ear disorder can be pointed out as a result of this initial examination. The results of the hearing test can be forwarded to your GP and ENT specialist for follow-up. In addition, you would have a chance to ask questions and receive a good consultation on the styles and technology level of the hearing aids that work best for your lifestyle. If you intend to purchase your hearing aids from an online store make sure that you take advantage of having your hearing test and examination done by a local audiologist, get a copy of your hearing test results and then purchase your hearing aids online. More on purchasing your next hearing aids online here.


Can I buy hearing aids with a monthly payment plan?

Yes, some hearing care professionals accept monthly payments for the cost of premium hearing aids. Please see the HearingNow monthly payment plan for the sale of premium hearing aids in the UK.


What are the easiest hearing aids to put in?

Generally speaking wearing in-ear hearing aids including ITE, ITC, CIC and IIC is easier than the RIC and BTE styles. That's why we recommend ITE/ITC/CIC and IIC hearing aids for people with arthritis or dexterity issues. The limitation is that patients with very narrow ear canals may not be able to have custom-made in-the-ear or in-the-canal hearing aids then they might need to consider RIC and BTE hearing aids with earmould.


What type of hearing aid is most popular?

At the moment receiver in canal or RIC hearing aids are the most popular hearing aids. The reasons for this are:

  • RIC hearing aids can be rechargeable or battery-powered

  • RIC hearing aids hold the highest technology for speech intelligibility

  • RIC hearing aids are Bluetooth enabled hence the wearer can have tinnitus sound therapy, music streaming and handsfree phone calls

  • RIC hearing aids cover a wide range of mild to severe hearing loss


What is the best hearing aid in 2023 for clarity of speech?

In 2023 the market observed the introduction of several high-technology hearing aids claiming the best speech intelligibility. Some of the best hearing aids in 2023 for speech understanding are:


Are cheap hearing aids bad for your ears?

We do not recommend cheap amplifier hearing aids. They are not qualified or certified for medical purposes in the UK and you should avoid using them, However, the hearing aids that are provided free by NHS are medical-rated and are good entry-level hearing aids. If you are in the market for premium hearing aids but have a tight budget, take a look at our NHS+ collection of hearing aids here.


What happens if I don't wear my hearing aids every day?

The general advice by any audiologist is that if you have hearing loss, then you better wear your hearing aids as much as possible, ideally every time. The reason is that you hear with your brain and not by your ears. Your brain has been receiving less and less sound over a long period of time before you started using hearing aids. It would take at least 3-6 or even longer for your brain to readjust to the sound of the hearing aids and tune back to the level of hearing that it was accustomed to. Wearing hearing aids on and off, or occasionally doesn't help with retraining your brain with the new level and with the new processed sound. It creates confusion in your auditory system and extends the rehabilitation of brain adjustment to the new sound unnecessarily.


What level of hearing loss requires a hearing aid?

While most patients with mild hearing loss can manage their day-to-day communication, I highly recommend considering using hearing aids seriously if your hearing loss is moderate or at the borderline of mild to moderate.






Will my hearing get worse if I don't wear a hearing aid?

No. Your hearing doesn't get worse if you need hearing aids but you decide not to use them. However, the cognitive power of your brain will be drained if you need hearing aids and you don't use them. The reason is that when your brain does not receive enough sound, your cognitive will be working much harder to make sense of the conversation and fill the gap of the missing words and phrases. This takes extra cognitive power and makes your brain tired. Some may subconsciously decide to self-isolate and avoid their social activities which is a step toward hearing loss-related dementia.


How long does it take for your brain to get used to hearing aids?

This can vary for different people. Brain adjustment to the level and the sound of a new pair of hearing aids may take 3 to 6 or even longer.


Is it better to have one or two hearing aids?

If you need two hearing aids then you must use two hearing aids. The sound arrived at your brain should be as balanced as possible for optimum speech processing (especially in noisy environments), your balance, and your sense of direction. Simply put, it is very similar to your eyes. If your eyes both need glasses then you wear lenses for both eyes.


Which hearing aid is better analogue or digital?

Analogue hearing aids are a matter of the past. Nowadays, all hearing aids in the market are digital. Digital hearing aids have a higher sound processing power and, hence are able to suppress noise and improve speech understanding.


What is the most intelligent hearing aid?

Hearing aids' number one mission is to help the patient hear speech in the presence of background noise. At the time of writing this article, the BrainHearing concept hired in Oticon REAL seems to be the most advanced technology in the market. The industry has been evolving from Directional Microphones to Artificial Intelligence and now into Deep Neural Network (DNN) which is the core technique used in BrainHearing. Please see this article for more details on Oticon Real.





What is the most subtle hearing aid?

Please see our ITE/ITC/CIC/IIC invisible hearing aids catalogue for a variety of different models of subtle invisible hearing aids.


What type of hearing aids are better for people with dexterity issues?

My recommendation to patients with arthritis and dexterity issues is to consider in-the-ear ITE or in-the-canal ITC hearing aids. The rechargeable feature is a must for this type of patient as they don't need to deal with replacing tiny batteries in their hearing aids. A RIC or BTE hearing aid on earmould could equally be a good option for people with dexterity issues.


Do invisible hearing aids support Bluetooth?

At the time of writing this article all the invisible IIC and CIC hearing aids are battery-powered and do not support Bluetooth.


Is it OK to wear hearing aids all day?

Indeed it is recommended to wear hearing aids all day. The reason is for your brain to grasp the loudness and the processed sound of the hearing aids sooner than later. Although it is possible to use hearing aids only when watching TV and social gatherings I always encourage patients with hearing loss and in particular the first-time users of hearing aids to use their hearing aids all the time to allow their brain to go faster through the adjustment period.


Can I just buy a hearing aid?

No matter where you purchase your hearing aids, it is highly recommended to let professional hearing care professionals do the programming for you. The choice of the fitting (domes) also makes a huge difference in the acoustics of your ear canal hence your ability is hear speech in noisy environments.


Why are hearing aids so expensive?

For several reasons hearing aids are expensive, some of the reasons are:

  • Hearing aids are consumer electronic products that are made in limited numbers as the product is not in demand by the masses

  • They hold highly custom electronic chips that are specifically designed for sound processing at very high speed hence they are very special-purpose products (similar to military-grade electronic equipment)

  • The price often includes a 3, 4 or 5 years warranty and aftercare, so not only do you purchase the product, but comprehensive long-term support and aftercare are included in the scope of your purchase


Why are some hearing aids more expensive than others?

All manufacturers of hearing aids offer their products in several technology tier levels. They offer the product this way to allow the patient to choose the fit-for-purpose hearing aid. The technology level of hearing aids is the main factor that determines the price of a certain hearing aid model. An elderly that spent most of his/her time gardening or watching TV could purchase an entry (some called it Essential level) technology level while an executive who runs a business and has several social and business events to attend would benefit from the top-level technology that specific hearing aid model can offer.


Why do my new hearing aids make everything sound tinny?

Deterioration of the human auditory system due to ageing usually starts with the loss of high frequency. The decline is very gradual so your brain doesn't notice what it is missing over 5, 10 or 15 years before you start using hearing aids for the first time. At that point, your brain notices high frequencies more, simply because now the hearing aid is amplifying the level of the high-frequency part of the hearing spectrum to compensate for your hearing loss at that band. It might take 3-6 months for your brain to get used to the new sound and readjust. If the adjustment didn't happen, or if the level of tinyness is severe you need to speak to your audiologist to readjust your hearing aids.


What is the common problem with hearing aids?

Here are the top 3 common problems that I have been observing with my patients using their hearing aids:

  • Blocked by ear wax - The speaker (in RICs) or the tube (in BTE) of the hearing aid is blocked with ear wax

  • Faulty speaker - The speaker is burned (the little unit that goes in the ear canal, some manufacturers call it the receiver)

  • Faulty electronics - Hearing aids are highly sophisticated electronics that are worn so exposed to shock, humidity and dust. The electronics inside hearing aids could go faulty as a result their sound may go down, feel fuzzy, or go silent.







How many hours a day should I wear hearing aids?

If you are the first time use of hearing aids you could start wearing your hearing aids 2 to 3 hours a day, mostly at home for the first 4-5 days, then increase it to more hours and start wearing them outside in the second week. The ultimate goal is to keep wearing your hearing aids all the time in about 2 weeks from the start.


Can hearing aids restore hearing to 100%?

No. There is no hearing aid that can restore your natural hearing. Hearing aids are your best option to help manage your hearing loss. They can be fine and tuned to sound as naturally as possible for your type and level of hearing loss, but they cannot restore your hearing.


Can hearing aids delay dementia?

It is now proven that hearing aids in fact can delay dementia and memory loss associated with hearing loss. When you start missing words and phrases in a conversation your cognitive power will be working much harder to fill the gap. Gradually over an extended time your brain will be accessing less and less the libraries of vocabulary and memories and experience when in a conversation. Your brain feels tired of being in a conversation. You may excuse social gatherings simply because you may feel embarrassed about asking people to repeat themselves. It is a downward spiral.






How many years does a hearing aid last?

Hearing aids can easily last 7 to 9 years. Premium hearing aids are mostly rated at IP68 and they are quite resilient to shock, moisture/water and dust. I have seen a pair of Oticon custom hearing aids that last for 11 years and are still working fine. Nevertheless, my advice is to make sure you buy insurance for your hearing aids so you safeguard against loss and accidental damage. See options for insuring your hearing aids.


Are hearing aids free for pensioners UK?

If you are looking for free hearing aids your best bet is to contact your GP. They will be able to put you in touch with the closest centre that can provide you with a hearing test and a pair of free hearing aids. The waiting list for such a service is wildly different from one NHS trust to another. See our collection of the best NHS+ hearing aids in 2023 here.


Are warranty and aftercare important in buying hearing aids?

Absolutely. Hearing aids are an investment in your health. They come with a warranty and aftercare. Make sure you are well aware of this when you compare prices or when you plan to purchase a pair of new premium hearing aids online, in a hearing aid store or in a high street hearing aid shop. Most of the hearing aids you purchase on HearingNow are under 5 years of extended manufacturer's warranty and aftercare. Please learn more about options to obtain a hearing aid insurance policy.


How do I know that I need hearing aids?

Here are a few signals that may give you the indication that you need to visit your audiologist for a hearing test. For a complete article on whether you need hearing aids or not click here.

  • You need to ask people to repeat what they just said, especially in noisy environments

  • The TV volume is louder than before

  • Your partner, a relative or your friends said that you seem to be missing the conversation

  • You don't hear bird sounds


I inherited a pair of good hearing aids, can I reprogram them for myself?

Yes, please read this article to learn about how we can help you with your inherited or second-hand hearing aids.



References:

  • Hoppe, Ulrich, and Gerhard Hesse. "Hearing aids: indications, technology, adaptation, and quality control." GMS current topics in otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery 16 (2017).

  • Edwards, Brent. "The future of hearing aid technology." Trends in amplification 11.1 (2007): 31-45.

  • Lunner, Thomas, Mary Rudner, and Jerker Rönnberg. "Cognition and hearing aids." Scandinavian journal of psychology 50.5 (2009): 395-403.

  • Hamacher, Volkmar, et al. "Binaural signal processing in hearing aids: Technologies and algorithms." Advances in digital speech transmission 14 (2008): 401-429.

  • Schum, Donald J. "Artificial Intelligence: The new advanced technology in hearing aids." Audiology Online (2004): 14-06.

  • Chung, King. "Challenges and recent developments in hearing aids: Part I. Speech understanding in noise, microphone technologies and noise reduction algorithms." Trends in Amplification 8.3 (2004): 83-124.




Have a question about premium hearing aids? Talk to our audiologist over a Zoom meeting.