Audiologist Insider: Part One – So you’ve decided to think about hearing aids

So, you’ve decided to think about hearing aids

Firstly, welcome! My name’s Matt Frost and I’m one of the audiologists at Harley Street Hearing.

Considering hearing aids is not an easy transition – whether it’s something you’ve noticed yourself or is something that has been suggested to you by someone else – so I am proud of you for finding your way here. I hope you find these reflections on my journey with hearing aids as a helpful checkpoint and I encourage you to keep going in your explorations, because hearing aids could change your life.

Almost every patient I see has had an event or experience that has led them to consider hearing aids. Maybe it’s difficulty hearing your friends whilst out for dinner, or that a family member has been pleading with you to have your hearing tested, maybe it’s struggling with softly spoken colleagues at work. Everyone has their own unique story and I wonder what that journey has been like for you so far.

My own hearing loss story

When I was first diagnosed with hearing loss at 17 years old and prescribed hearing aids, I was in the throes of training to become a professional orchestral percussionist.

Initially, I was shocked, terrified of what others might think, and in denial about whether they would truly help. With great courage and support from my audiologist, I committed to trying them. I have never looked back. I went on to train at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, before turning my passion for musicians’ wellbeing into a desire to care for others with hearing loss and a love of music.

It’s important to acknowledge that everyone reading this article will have a different experience of hearing the world; your lifestyle and listening needs are totally unique to you. That’s why a tailored, individualised approach to hearing health care is crucial to you achieving your listening goals. That’s what Harley Street Hearing provides. Now, the aim of my reflections here are not to homogenise the experiences of us as hearing-impaired people: every individual has their unique insights to offer. Rather, I wish to share with you a couple of thoughts that I now find helpful as a clinician when discussing hearing aids with my patients and what you might expect from a hearing aid assessment at Harley Street Hearing.

Thought 1: IDA’s ‘The Box’

The *IDA institute’s Box is a fantastic tool to use if you are at all on the fence about trialling hearing aids and can easily be done at home. It asks you to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of taking action on your hearing and gives you a chance to reflect on any listening difficulties that you might have experienced recently. (Click on the image below to download The Box and complete).

 

One common reflection I hear from patients is the phrase, “I think I cope fine”. I like to draw back to my own experiences with hearing aids in answering this. Imagine you’re watching a football match on a black and white television. You can see the players moving, but it’s difficult to know who is on which team and which players you’re supposed to be cheering for. Now, you switch over to your LED colour display television, the players come to life and your brain no longer needs to strain to identify which players are on which team. This is how I describe my current hearing experience. Without hearing aids, I can cope. I can survive. However, I have to try infinitely harder to stay engaged, sometimes making up my responses as I go along, or simply being isolated from conversation entirely. With my hearing aids in, the world returns to colour and my aural fatigue reduces. The mental strain from having to work so hard to listen well to others, lessens.

Put simply, you do not have to settle for ‘coping’, instead hearing aids can bring brightness back to your auditory world and help you to thrive.

Thought 2: What are my options?

When you hear, “hearing aids”, what does your brain jump to first? I know – it was either those big chunky things your great grandparents wore, or Beethoven’s ear trumpet, right? Let me reassure you, as cool as the ear trumpet was, a sleek world of possibility is at your fingertips with the hearing aids of today.

Here’s my breakdown of the things that are helpful to know, to get you started:

  • Style – there are three main styles: discrete behind-the-ear, custom made, and completely invisible, available in a variety of colours to match your skin, hair or personal preference. During your hearing aid assessment at Harley Street Hearing, your audiologist will detail the benefits of going with one style over another, not only taking into account your medical history and hearing test results, but also your personal preferences and lifestyle needs.
  • Connectivity – many devices on the market in both the behind-the-ear and custom made styles have the capacity to connect to your phone. This means that you can stream music, phone calls and podcasts to your ears directly, with the hearing aid taking into account your hearing difference, to help you hear those sounds more clearly.
  • Apps – Most hearing aids also have their own apps to go with them. This gives you the control to make some adjustments to your hearing aids where necessary. Whether that’s microphone adjustments, programme changes, or background noise reduction – you can be in the driving seat.

Thought 3: This is the beginning of a journey

Some patients tend to think that hearing aids are like glasses – you put them on and, “wahey!” you can see. When it comes to hearing aids, we need to allow time for the brain to become accustomed to the new auditory information it receives. This is different for every individual, again highlighting the importance of the tailored service and care that Harley Street Hearing provides.

hearing consultation

At Harley Street Hearing your assessment would be followed by a demonstration appointment, leading to the most important appointments of all – your follow ups. This is when you get to give your audiologist feedback from your experiences in the real world, the world according to you. Your feedback then guides the fine-tuning of your hearing aids to ensure that you are getting the most out of your new devices.

When I was first given hearing aids I was anxious of them and how others would see me. Now, I see how they have allowed me to flourish, both in the pursuits of my musical career, and the clinical one that has followed. I can only hope that you feel encouraged to do the same.

*The Ida Institute is an independent, nonprofit organisation working to build a global community that embraces person-centred hearing care.

If you’re interested in seeing how Harley Street Hearing can help you with any hearing issues please call us on 020 7486 1053 or contact us completing the contact form below.

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