Author Topic: Hearing aids - clever ones  (Read 647 times)

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Hearing aids - clever ones
« on: August 23, 2019, 08:13:33 am »
Having some age related (and gig-related) hearing loss, I’m wondering about hearing aids...

Mostly manifested when trying to pick up voices in groups, noisy environments and watching TV.

By clever ones, I mean ones that can be controlled/programmed via Bluetooth, and streamed to. There seem to be a couple of expensive behind the ear ones (with the little plastic tube that sticks in the ear canal, like Resound) and some new ear buds (that are much cheaper and spam advertised, from Australia, I think).

Any thoughts or experiences?
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MikeFromLFE

  • Previously known as Millimole
Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2019, 08:47:10 am »
I've got a bog standard NHS one, and I e bought a "Bluetooth to T setting" device which allows me to stream stuff from my phone direct to my head with the hearing aid on the T setting.
My hearing aid sits behind my ear, with a transparent tiny tube that plugs into my ear. The adaptor hangs round my neck - and I can't remember the name of it.
Not an answer to your question, but deals with one small part of it.
Before getting all spendy on a hearing aid - if you've never had one before - I'd say make sure that you can tolerate an NHS one first (mine gives me a deep seated ear ache that the audiologist says us psychosomatic, and I 'just need to get over')

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Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2019, 09:10:11 am »
I use Widex hearing aids (my model name = Widex Evoke Fusion). They’re controlled via an app on your phone from which you can also stream via Bluetooth, they have all the settings you’d expect (eg for noisy environments, voices in groups, audio loops) and you can choose either replaceable or rechargeable batteries. Would recommend.
R10000 x 2   RRtY x 7    SR x 7    E = 128

Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2019, 10:05:30 am »
Having some age related (and gig-related) hearing loss, I’m wondering about hearing aids...

What stage are you at - have you had a hearing test?

I've had hearing aids since childhood and I have recent experience of obtaining new ones both on the NHS and privately so hopefully I can give some useful input.

In the first instance I'd suggest getting your GP to refer you to an audiologist for testing. NHS clinics, in my experience, always test more thoroughly and have more equipment than private sector audiologists. They spend more time ruling out indirect causes of hearing loss. I think it is a good idea to be on the NHS audiology books, so to speak, even if you choose to go the private route. And even if you end up buying your own hearing aids, you'll have an NHS pair as spares should they ever be needed.

The next thing I'd, if considering the private route, is to choose a good audiologist / clinic. It's essential to have someone who will 1) let you have trials of a few different hearing aids and 2) guarantee to see you a couple of times soon after purchase to make adjustments. Yes, apps do provide some control but they are very basic in many ways. You cannot set or adjust parameters / protocols with these apps - think of them as not being capable of much more than switching between programmes and controlling volume. And if your hearing aids are set up properly, you should rarely need to adjust volume or switch programmes. I have found that it usually takes 2 post-purchase visits to get everything optimised.

Other things to consider:
- are you iPhone or Android? Some aids are "Made for iPhone", permitting direct streaming to the aids. There is now an Android equivalent.
- Some hearing aids need a streamer, some stream directly. 
- rechargeable batteries, either built in or replaceable, are becoming a thing, but are (IMO) not quite there yet for someone who is reliant on their hearing aids
- water resistance
- warranty

My current hearing aids are Bernafon Zerena 9 (receiver in ear - i.e. a behind the ear part and a mould that goes in the ear canal). I chose these after a long trial (a few weeks, though to be honest someone used to hearing aids can tell very quickly if they are going to work for you or not) of a couple of alternatives, notably the oft-recommended Oticon Opn. The reason for my selection may interest you: there is a huge variation in how hearing aids handle music. While the Oticons were excellent in every other way (speech discrimination probably slightly better than my eventual choice), I found it impossible to enjoy music through them as it sounded highly compressed and processed. Unlistenable in fact. Another reason for a good trial that will allow you to see how they work for you for live music, music at home, via headphones if applicable, and streamed.


barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2019, 10:45:48 am »
I concur NHS audiology is usually better than private for the starters and some NHS hearing aids, especially with "streamers" will do exactly what you wish. While some people clearly do benefit from private aids over NHS, a lot depends on the local area - my NHS area provides better standard hearing aids than my friend's does for example.

Hearing aids, no matter how good they are, will never restore natural-like hearing and as a first time user there will be an adjustment period.

I can't comment on the cleverness of hearing aids, cos I utterly despise and loathe the cleverness and battle to get it all switched as OFF as modern hearing aids (in my case obscure bone anchored ones) will allow. I am a classic life-long hearing aid user from the analogue days - the audiologists call us power junkies cos we want volume and sod the features.

Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2019, 10:50:56 pm »
A slightly different take from me, but then I have an atypical hearing loss1 and a rare background2 as far as the hearing aid populace as a whole is concerned.

I have found that all audiologists difficult to communicate with, though a tame audiologist who is the sister of a friend is more receptive to experimentation and even let me at the controls of the programmer. She’s since left the area though, so I’m back to square one. I agree though that in spite of my difficulty with NHS audiologists, they have mostly been as helpful as they can be, and the local lot were happy to get me some different HA when I got a streamer from work as the standard issue set weren’t compatible.

1. I have reverse ski slope hearing loss, which is essentially back to front, and to compound this I did have very acute high frequency hearing.
2. I’m a telephone engineer by initial training and went on to be a specialist transmission engineer before I discovered databases. This means that I have a specialist knowledge in the transmission and encoding of the human voice, but the technical language I use is not the same as that taught to audiologists and in any case, they are mostly trained to communicate with people rather than sort out technical issues. And given that 1. above makes my a very rare user case already, things can become mired quite quickly. 
Sorting my life out, one shed at a time.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2019, 11:26:01 pm »
Thank all, some great thoughts and suggestions.

To answer one of the questions, I've had a private hearing test, when I was being fitted for my latest pair of custom earplugs. She told me I'd need to spend £5k or I'd go demented.*

* This is a bit of a précis...
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barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2019, 11:28:45 pm »
*giggles at Beardy*

Kim and I have had some *interesting* conversations with my tame audiologists who have some quite frankly bollox definitions of terms like "digital" that we couldn't bear to leave unchallenged. Kim has significant personal nerdy interests in broadcast of sound, telecoms and theatre sound as well as an electronics background...

My audiologists use "digital" to mean "notprogrammable", so they claim my previous BAHA was not digital... When it IS digital but is NOT programmable.

I can't remember what the other thing we had to LART them about...

I sympathise, greatly, cos they are taught physics/sound engineering on their degree and promptly forget it to focus on the often more pressing issues of dealing with Mr and Mrs doddery old lady who needs a hearing aid for a standard loss but has a family who don't make adjustments to how they communicate cos they don't grok that hearing aids do not fix deafness 100%.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2019, 11:33:25 pm »
My audiologists use "digital" to mean "not programmable", so they claim my previous BAHA was not digital... When it IS digital but is NOT programmable.

I can't remember what the other thing we had to LART them about...

Prelingually deaf people having poor working memory for language so they often lose track of the meaning of a sentence and end up saying the opposite to what they actually mean?   ;)

No, I can't remember either.  Other than them plotting audiograms upside-down, which is a minor annoyance in the scheme of things.  The obsession with the speech band irks me, as if that's all people use their hearing for.  But I can understand why.

TBH, if they're not talking to you when they've got your hearing aid in their hand, you're winning.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2019, 11:45:36 pm »
In my defence, the speech band is wider than my hearing loss. It’s just a shame that I’ve yet to find a hearing aid that can amplify my missing bit without causing me significant discomfort with other frequencies. The other issue is trying to get even my nearest and dearest to understand the issues I have with the washing machine on spin...
 
Sorting my life out, one shed at a time.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2019, 12:00:42 am »
The other issue is trying to get even my nearest and dearest to understand the issues I have with the washing machine on spin...

Ironically with us it's frequently the wrong way round: I can't hear barakta over the noises her hearing aid is filtering out.  Running water and the boiling kettle are the usual offenders: She doesn't know how much louder to speak when I'm doing the washing up.

But we tend not to get wound up by failure to communicate.  We just switch modes, or wait until later, or generally take the piss out of ourselves or whatever.  I appreciate how unusual this seems to be.

Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2019, 07:36:22 am »
She told me I'd need to spend £5k or I'd go demented.

Welcome to the hearing aid cartel. Can there be any other mass-produced electronic product with such excessive margins and such comprehensive price fixing? There is always a bit of leeway to be had, but even that is fixed between retailers.

£3.5 or £4k would be more like it though, I think I got my pair for about £3.4K.

One reason to have high expectations when buying privately, and to see if the NHS options will work for you first.

However, my experience is that there are programmable hearing aids and programmable hearing aids, and the performance or listenability gap between what I was given on the NHS and what I was able to achieve with privately bought ones was huge. Some of that gap is down to fitting and adjustment issues, but not all.

barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2019, 12:25:23 pm »
Some of it is the NHS uses hearing aid models which are 2-5 years behind the private curve. The NHS does mass procurement and pays about £65-100 per hearing aid for most of the aids they supply.

If you have a weird loss they may agree to a more expensive/advanced model but again depends on quality of audiology and their ability to "put in a funding bid request" etc.

They have no choice with me. BAHAs are one step down from cochlea implants, we get the extra qualified audiologists and while they sometimes have to do funding paperwork, the funder panel can't say no - I can't use anything else.

barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2019, 12:26:52 pm »
Prelingually deaf people having poor working memory for language so they often lose track of the meaning of a sentence and end up saying the opposite to what they actually mean?   ;)

Gah! Shoved in some strikethroughs.

nicknack

  • Hornblower
Re: Hearing aids - clever ones
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2019, 12:36:36 pm »
I'm happy with my NHS ones. Which is just as well since there's no way I could afford the private stuff. But I expect I'm easy since all I've got is age related (and probably a bit of loud music related) high end loss.
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