The secret behind an exceptional hearing aid

Hearing advice with Armaj Ali of BestHear Clinic, Swansea

As an Audiologist, I am often asked, what is the best hearing aid out there? Are private hearing aids necessarily better than NHS hearing aids? What really differentiates the good from the bad in the hearing aid world?

The secret behind what makes an exceptional hearing aid lies in how well it has been calibrated. Indeed, even a low-end hearing aid can outperform a high-end one, if the former is calibrated correctly whilst the latter isn’t. Yet, if a high-end hearing aid happens to be calibrated well, then the outcome from this optimal combination can truly be transformational and life-changing for individuals suffering from hearing loss.

The most common symptoms of hearing loss include struggling to hear others in background noise, in group gatherings, and habitually turning up the television volume far past what is socially acceptable. The main reason behind this is not due to the voices being undetectable for individuals with hearing loss, but rather, there is an issue with the overall clarity. It appears as though others are not beginning or ending their words properly.

When these symptoms are left untreated, it can have a devastating impact on the overall health and well-being of individuals affected, such that the negative consequences of ignoring this otherwise prevalent health condition have been well documented, with the latest research clearly indicating a relationship between untreated hearing loss and an increased risk of dementia diagnosis in later life.

For this reason, it is imperative to know what a well-calibrated hearing aid entails- since its opposite is perhaps inadvertently widely recognised (i.e. hearing aids that whistle all the time, loud sounds are intolerable, the T.V volume remains high, strug-gling to maintain conversations with someone in background noise etc.). A well-calibrated hearing aid is one that has been put through a rigorous process of adjustment, as can be highlighted by the following chart that showcases the three tiers of hearing aid calibration:

When these three tiers of calibration have been completed by an experienced Audiologist, then and only then- does a hearing aid truly become exceptional. Thereafter, any individual with a hearing loss that is less than a severe to profound level can easily demonstrate the following four hearing outcomes:

Automatic volume adjustment – whereby soft sounds are detectable, loud sounds are not insufferable and normal speech volume is as expected.

Sound naturalness – There is no sensation of ‘echoeyness’ or ‘tinniness’ and people sound overall natural.

Sound Clarity – All speech cues are detectable at whisper level without lip-reading, such that one can hear and clearly understand someone who is whispering to them in a quiet room.

Normal TV volume – since the clarity of the hearing aids has been well adjusted, the TV volume effectively comes down to a normal listening level.

By Mr. Armaj Ali – Clinical Audiologist at BestHear Clinic and Pioneer of the HEAREKA Method of Hearing Aid Fitting


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