Hearing problems can develop with age or be caused by frequent exposure to loud noise. Every day, millions of people experience loss of hearing. This can be detrimental to both personal and professional life for those who are left in silence as they struggle with what should be a basic necessity: communication. There are three main types of hearing loss- namely, conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss and mixed hearing loss. Whatever the level of your hearing loss, it is important to have your condition diagnosed by a hearing specialist at the earliest stage. Once your condition is identified, you may be prescribed hearing devices to improve the quality of your life.
The NHS is able to provide a number of hearing aid types and models for free on a loan basis. In this blog post, we run through which hearing aid types are available from the NHS. We also offer affordable alternatives to the NHS hearing aids and you can order digital hearing aids online directly from our website.
Which Hearing Aid Types are available from the NHS?
The majority of hearing aids issued through the NHS today are digital, and behind-the-ear. Some departments offer receiver in canal products, whereas Body worn aids are almost never issued anymore. Bone conduction aids are offered only as a special arrangement and bone anchored aids require an operation.
Hearing Direct offers affordable alternatives to the NHS for hearing aids such as Behind The Ear, In The Ear, Completely In Canal and Receiver In Canal hearing aids.
Behind The Ear Hearing Aids:
BTE hearing aids are one of the most popular styles of hearing aids. They have two main parts - the part with the electronics, goes behind the ear; the ear mould sits in the bowl of the ear. For the ear mould to fit, an impression of the individual ear is taken. Modern types of behind the ear hearing aids feature an open fit technology. They do not require an ear mould but instead, have a thin tube that delivers sound from the hearing aid into the ear canal. For some types of hearing loss this can provide a more natural sound. It will depend on the level of your hearing loss and department policies as to which fit you will be offered.
Body-worn Hearing Aids:
The body-worn hearing aids consist of earmolds/earphones equipped with a loudspeaker connected to a small box containing the controls, battery, and an amplifier that you can attach to your clothes or put in your pocket. Although the NHS still provides these types of hearing aids in certain cases, they are not very popular anymore.
Bone Conduction Hearing Aids:
These hearing aids conduct the sound to the inner ear through the skull bones. The device has a part holding the microphone and a headband equipped with a bone conductor, which vibrates when the microphone transmits sound.
Bone-anchored Hearing Aids:
The bone-anchored hearing aids are actually a type of bone conduction hearing aid. The difference is that they require an implant in the bone of the skull behind your ear. It then connects to a small case with a microphone and a sound processor.
CROS & BiCROS Hearing Aids:
These types of hearing aids may be recommended for people who have hearing only in one ear. The CROS product (which looks like a hearing aid) picks up sound and transmits the sound signal to another device worn on the hearing ear. The two devices, usually two behind the ear hearing aids, can operate wirelessly or have a physical wire connecting them which sits behind the neck.
Cochlear Implant (Not a hearing aid)
A cochlear implant is a prosthetic device that could help restore the ability to hear and understand speech. A cochlear implant is only recommended for those people who fulfil a number of specific requirements. The device consists of external and internal parts. The external part sits right behind the ear whereas the internal part is surgically implanted.
Can you get invisible hearing aids on the NHS?
In the growing landscape of hearing aid technology, invisible hearing aids are essentially small miracle workers also known as ‘CIC’ completely in the canal or “IIC” invisible-in the canal hearing aids. These small hearing aids work by fitting inside your ear canals. These days it's a rare sight to see someone wearing one of these because of how discreet they are. One could immediately see the appeal of wearing them, especially those who worry about being judged for wearing an old-fashioned hearing aid.
Now, the NHS doesn't usually offer in the ear hearing aids. It mostly offers behind-the-ear (BTE) models. For someone who's conscious about their appearance, the BTE model would be the last thing on their mind. If you still want to look for NHS hearing aids that are smaller, your best bet may be a receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) which the NHS offers to some individuals. However, it's worth noting that these receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) devices are still worn behind the ear. Hearing Direct offers a diverse range of invisible hearing aids tailored to fit your ear snuggly and discreetly.
Obtaining Hearing Aids from the NHS
In the UK a limited range of Hearing Aids are provided by the NHS for free. The hearing aids are provided depending on your need and you will probably not get a choice of which type of hearing aid you are given. You will not be charged for repair works and batteries.
However, be aware that the hearing aids are provided as a loan and not as a gift. You will not own the hearing aid. Also, if the NHS hearing aids incur any damage, you may well be charged repair or replacement. It may also take time to receive your hearing aid.
Your first point of contact should be your GP who will refer you to the local audiology department. As a first step, you could take our online hearing test which is free, takes 3 minutes and will give you a first insight into your hearing levels.
Guidance from the NHS states that "If you don't mind paying for treatment, you can choose to go to a private hearing aid provider directly." The NHS does not offer all the types of hearing aids available privately or the newest models with the latest features. For those models, you will have to turn to an alternate dispenser such as ourselves.
Buying a hearing aid privately may not be as expensive as you think. At Hearing Direct we specialise in affordable hearing aids.
Why are private hearing aids better than the NHS?
The NHS offers the most affordable and accessible means to get a pair of hearing aids. The process starts with an examination from a hearing care professional who will diagnose your condition before recommending which type of hearing aids best suits your hearing loss.
Even though the NHS stocks a limited collection of models, they are still a boon to many hard of hearing people especially since they don't require a financial investment. However, there are some important considerations that should be made before you choose to use this service:
- The device you receive from the NHS will be given as a loan, you don't get to own it. You could face charges for damages or loss if something were to happen during use, which may put an unwanted financial strain on your wallet.
- You may be placed on a waiting list before you can be fitted with your hearing aids. The waiting list times vary across departments. This can be a huge inconvenience compared to purchasing private hearing aids which you can have right away.
- Patients who need other types of assistive listening devices such as amplified phones or remote microphones are usually not able to receive them through the NHS
- For an in-depth analysis of why private hearing aids are rated better than NHS hearing aids, make sure to read NHS Hearing Aids vs Private Hearing Aids.
What are NHS hearing aid batteries?
The NHS offers a selection of free hearing aid batteries. Hearing aid batteries come in different sizes so you need to identify which size is best suited for your device. Some brands offered by the NHS are:
- Power One
Read more about different NHS hearing aid batteries options.
What happens if you lose your NHS Hearing Aids?
You don't own the NHS-provided hearing aids. They are the property of the NHS. If you no longer need them you're under obligation to return them to the NHS. While the NHS can make arrangements for replacing damaged hearing aids, you may be charged in the event of loss. The audiology department will take your circumstance into consideration while making a decision.
When should I get tested for hearing loss?
If you're noticing problems with your hearing, talk to a doctor and let them know how it’s affecting everyday life. Your doctor can carry out some basic tests to check for temporary conditions like earwax build-up and ear infection.
If you have no obvious cause of hearing loss, your doctor may refer you to an audiologist or ENT specialist for a hearing assessment. This usually involves testing your hearing abilities and understanding the different levels of sounds your ears can detect. Once the cause of your hearing loss is established, you will be prescribed the right treatment plan for your condition. A hearing assessment will reveal what type of hearing aids you will need. Over the years, Hearing Direct has provided free audiologist consultations to help people understand their hearing loss and research the best solution for their needs.
Hearing Aids from Hearing Direct
We are one of the UK's leading hearing aid specialists and at hearingdirect.com you will find a superb set of affordable alternatives to NHS hearing aids. Equipped with certified hearing care professionals, our focus is convenience and price and we have removed many of the hefty costs associated with hearing aids and passed those savings directly on to you. Our hearing health care professionals can prescribe the right hearing aid for your condition within your budget.
Our range starts with entry level devices such as the HD 230 P 640S. The HD230 is a mid-range in-the-ear hearing aid which packs a lot of technical capability. This programmable hearing aid is designed for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. It has three volume levels and comes in a compact, easy-to-wear design that will sit snugly in the ear canal. The P 640S is the perfect solution for those who want an easy to use, behind-the-ear, affordable hearing aid that offers a high quality listening experience. While the P640S is ideal for mild to moderate hearing loss, due to its powerful capabilities, the hearing aid can be set to work just as well for moderate to severe hearing loss.
For the ultimate hearing experience, the flagship in-the-ear Signia Silk 5Nx Digital Hearing Aid, the virtually invisible Signia Silk 3Nx Digital Hearing Aid and the behind the ear Signia Motion 13 1Nx Digital Hearing Aid are our top-end aids packed with all the latest impressive features you will need from a hearing aid.
In addition to the broad range of hearing aids, at Hearing Direct we also offer assistive listening devices custom-made to meet your everyday hearing needs. Assistive listening devices are small, hand-held amplifiers with in-built microphones that can help you communicate in one-to-one situations. They help people with hearing troubles by capturing and amplifying the sound they wish to hear and filtering out the background noise.
Our blog is home to a number of valuable resources and articles. You find all sorts of topics from guides on hearing loss, all the way to product reviews, hearing aid prices, the cost of batteries and brand reviews.
About Hearing Direct
We are one of the world's leading hearing aid specialists. Hearing Direct offers a wide range of affordable products, as well as informational resources to help improve the quality of life for the hard of hearing. We sell: