Why can I hear but not understand the words?

People with hearing loss will often have a poor ability to hear high-pitched sounds while retaining the ability to hear lower pitches well. This means that anything within the lower range is heard loud and clear (e.g. traffic noise, the babble of a crowd of people, etc.) while the important high pitches that give clarity to words are not perceivable. As a result, people often complain that they can hear fine but just can’t understand the words.

Can a hearing aid help me?

Yes. Hearing aids can help if they are chosen correctly. Because noise creates a particular type of hearing loss (i.e. usually good hearing for low-pitched sounds and poor hearing for high-pitched sounds), certain hearing aids will provide much better results than others. The right hearing aid will restore clarity by bringing back high-pitched sounds without distorting your good low-pitched hearing or increasing unwanted background noise. They should be practically invisible and comfortable as well.

Do I really need a hearing aid?

There is no exact degree of hearing loss that determines when a hearing aid is required. In our experience, however, most people wait too long to try aids and suffer further hearing loss and deterioration of their ability to perceive speech. Everybody’s needs and lifestyles are different. It will be up to you to be honest with yourself and identify when your inability to hear well is negatively impacting your communication and relationships with others – whether socially or professionally.

With high-quality, comfortable and discreet hearing aids now available, there is no excuse for hold off from getting one. If you are noticing troubles hearing in background noise, having difficulty hearing women’s and children’s voices, or other general problems, then it is worthwhile finding out if a hearing aid can help.

Will a hearing aid make my hearing worse?

No. Hearing aids are limited so as not to be so loud as to damage the ears. Although a hearing aid won’t actually prevent your hearing getting worse over time, they will help you to retain the ability of the brain to process the information being fed to it by the ears. The saying “use it or lose it” rings true.

The ability to understand speech requires not only the ears to hear the sounds but also the brain to put it all together in order to make sense of it and determine what it means. If you don’t wear a hearing aid, the brain is deprived of stimulation by the sounds affected by hearing loss. In turn, the ability to process these sounds and make use of them deteriorates.

A professionally fitted hearing aid will not cause damage to your hearing (however, beware of hearing aids bought online). With eyesight, people report that their eyes become lazy when they take their glasses off. This is not the case with hearing aids. In fact, many of our clients feel that they hear better for a period after taking their hearing aid off. Although it is unlikely that the hearing aid has actually improved their hearing thresholds, it is evident that using a hearing aid improves your central processing skills. This is the ability of the brain to identify important sounds, process them rapidly and turn them into meaning.

Will a hearing aid cost a lot?

Pensioners and veterans who are eligible to receive a voucher from the Office of Hearing can receive hearing aids free of charge. Alternatively, you may use the voucher to reduce the cost of hearing aids with additional features if you wish.

Hearing aids vary vastly in price and this reflects differences in both functionality and look. As Hearing Matters fits hearing aids from all manufacturers according to which is the most appropriate for the client, it is impossible to list the prices of all instruments. As a guide, however, the prices range from $1000 to $1500 for a basic model, $2250 to $2750 for an advanced model, $3000 to $3500 for an elite model and $4250 to $4750 for the premium choice.

The aid that is most suitable for you is ascertained through discussion with one of our hearing loss experts at an appointment. Here, we will go through the advantages and limitations of each model to determine which provides the best value for money for your circumstance. It is not the case that the most expensive aid is the most suitable for everyone.

Can I try before I buy?

Yes; we insist upon it. Free 30-day at-home trials are a necessary part of any hearing aid fitting. At an initial fitting, we program the instrument to function as we expect you would want it to. We then like to see clients a week later to fine tune the aids according to your experiences before sending you off again to try out the changes. Your Hearing Matters audiologist can tell you at your initial appointment what we hope the aid will achieve, but in the end only you will be the judge.

How long do hearing aids last?

Hearing aids generally last between five and seven years, and even longer in some cases. Of course it all depends on how well they are looked after and how much they are worn. To be safe, you need to consider five years as the average hearing aid life span. The main reason for this is that the hearing aid manufacturers are obliged to support any discontinued hearing aid for at least five years after it has been discontinued. If it fails after this time, you might not be able to find spare parts for it anymore, and it will become deemed beyond repair (DBR). You will also likely find that the technology has changed so significantly after five years that you want to upgrade to a more modern hearing aid for better hearing.

How do I know which level of hearing aid technology is most suitable for me?

Hearing aids can only be prescribed after a comprehensive hearing test and discussion of your needs by an audiologist. We will determine the environments where you have the most hearing trouble and also establish the situations in which you would most like to hear and communicate better. This information will enable us to determine which level of hearing aid technology will best meet your needs.

Most hearing aids are very good at providing a clear speech signal in quiet environments, so if you are rarely in noisy environments, you would most likely find a basic model would be sufficient. The primary difference between basic and more advanced hearing devices, however, is the ability to provide a clear speech signal when there is competing background noise – such as in a restaurant, supermarket or car. Higher level hearing aids have technology within them that does a much better job of reducing background noise than basic hearing aids. Therefore, the level of technology most suitable for you will be determined by the complexity of the environments in which you want to improve your hearing.

Despite knowing your degree of hearing loss and needs, the suggestions we make are still only an educated guide. In the end, you will be the one to judge the effectiveness of the devices after a rigorous trial in the real world. Your hearing aids need to be effective in the environments you most wish to improve in order for it to provide value for money. If it is not up to scratch, we will happily trial another brand of hearing aid. It is not necessarily a case of needing a more expensive device as different brands suit different people.

Our hearing loss experts do not have a vested interest in any particular brand and will, therefore, recommend the device we feel is most appropriate for your lifestyle at the best price.

One ear or two?

Two ears are better than one. Our two ears receive sound and then transmit these sounds to the part of our brain that processes hearing. When our ears perceive a sound, the brain determines its direction. This is possible because one ear hears the sound a split second earlier and a little bit louder than the other. This localisation ability alerts us, for example, to approaching cars when we cross a street.

Another important factor is sound quality, which is much better when we hear with both ears. Speech heard with only one ear can sound flat and strange.

Hearing aids are fitted to both ears if the hearing loss occurs on both sides, maximising sound quality and retaining the ability to detect which direction sounds are coming from.