Article by Hearing Partners, contributed by Sadrina Shah, Clinical Audiologist at Hearing Partners
Many people recognise that hearing aids help those with hearing loss hear their surroundings better. Yet, the benefits of these devices often go beyond better hearing – they allow individuals with hearing loss to reconnect with those around them, improve their quality of life and help them guard against cognitive decline.
If you’re someone who has been struggling with hearing loss, you may be keen on getting a hearing aid. However, the numerous brands and styles available in the market may leave you feeling confused.
To guide you in this journey of getting a hearing aid, we’ll discuss the different types of devices available, and what factors you should consider when getting one. We’ll also cover the process for getting a hearing aid and share our answers to some frequently asked questions.
Types of Hearing Aids
There are 2 main types of hearing aids – behind-the-ear and in-the-ear hearing aids.
Behind-the-ear hearing aids
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids feature a plastic casing that sits behind the ear and is connected to a custom earpiece that fits inside the ear canal. These hearing aids are known to be discreet, comfortable and easy to maintain.
There are different types of BTE devices available including traditional BTEs and receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) hearing aids.
- Traditional BTE
Traditional BTEs are larger than RITE hearing aids, and the microphone, amplifier and receiver components are found in the plastic casing worn behind the ear. These devices are more suitable for individuals who experience recurrent ear infections as the discharge won’t come into contact with the electrical components of the hearing aid.
RITE hearing aids are similar to BTEs, but the receiver is located inside the ear canal instead of the casing behind the ear. They’re also smaller in size.
In-the-ear hearing aids
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids, or custom hearing aids, are custom-moulded to fit the contours of each individual’s ear. All the components of the device, including the microphone, amplifier and receiver, are housed within the small plastic casing worn inside the ear canal.
ITE hearing aids are designed to be as small as possible, making them a popular choice among many individuals. They come in a range of styles including invisible-in-the-canal, completely-in-the-canal, in-the-canal and full-shell or half-shell hearing aids.
- Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC): Smallest in size and most discreet; fits entirely inside the ear canal
- Completely-in-the-canal (CIC): Face plate and battery drawer are visible; fits entirely inside the ear canal
- In-the-canal (ITC): Slightly larger and more visible than CIC hearing aids
- Full-shell or half-shell: Largest and most visible; worn in the concha
Our audiologists will recommend the best type of hearing aid to suit your condition and needs. Speak to our audiologists today!
What to Consider Before Getting a Hearing Aid
If you’re planning on getting a hearing aid, here are some key factors you may want to consider and discuss with your hearing care provider.
Degree of hearing loss
The type and extent of your hearing loss will significantly impact the type of hearing aid recommended to you. While ITE hearing aids may be suitable for less severe forms of hearing loss, individuals with more severe hearing loss tend to require BTE hearing aids.
A hearing test will help you determine the severity of your hearing loss. Based on the results, alongside other considerations, your hearing care provider will recommend the best type of hearing aid for you.
Hearing aid technology
Some brands such as Oticon offer hearing aids equipped with advanced technology. These technologies can offer you a better hearing experience and reduce the listening effort needed.
For example, Oticon’s BrainHearing™ technology will give you access to a fuller and more natural soundscape, thereby supporting the way your brain functions. Their noise reduction feature also reduces disruptions and makes hearing easier for you.
Many models of hearing aids are Bluetooth-compatible, meaning that they can connect with most smart devices including phones, computers and televisions. With this function, you can stream music and shows from your smart device directly to your hearing aid.
Moreover, certain brands of hearing aids can connect with accessories such as wireless microphones. For example, Oticon hearing aids can be paired with the EduMic, a tiny wireless microphone worn by teachers to support children’s learning in the classroom.
If you find handling small objects a challenge, you may not be suitable for certain types of hearing aids. Your audiologist can advise you accordingly and offer alternatives such as a mobile application for controlling the device remotely, or automated functions.
It’s important to share your lifestyle and daily activities with your audiologist when selecting a hearing aid as it could impact their recommendation for you. For example, you may be recommended a hearing aid with noise-reduction features if you spend a lot of time in noisy environments.
Additionally, if you tend to spend most of your time outdoors, BTE, half-shell and full-shell hearing aids may not be suitable for you. This range of devices is more susceptible to wind noise as compared to CIC and IIC hearing aids.
Hearing aids can vary greatly in price depending on their features, brand and functions. On average, the price of hearing aids in Singapore can fall between $800 and $8,100 per piece.
While getting a hearing aid on the lower end of the cost spectrum may sound appealing, you may have to make certain trade-offs concerning the features and technology. Thus, it’s important to find the right balance between price, features and functionality.
Process of Getting a Hearing Aid
The process of getting a hearing aid may seem complicated and overwhelming. Read on as we break down the process of getting a hearing aid at Hearing Partners into 4 simple steps!
Step 1: Hearing test
Start by taking a hearing test at your nearest hearing centre.
The test will typically begin with a consultation where your audiologist will understand more about your medical history. Next, you’ll undergo a physical examination of your ear before proceeding with a detailed hearing test.
Step 2: Hearing aid trial
At Hearing Partners, after the hearing test, we’ll discuss the results with you. If you’re suitable for hearing aids, you can try our hearing aids for up to a week. The purpose of the trial is to allow you to experience the benefits of these devices in your home environment.
You’re encouraged to take note of the challenges you face and the concerns you have during the trial period so that your audiologist can address them during the next appointment.
Step 3: Hearing aid fitting
During your next appointment, after you have chosen your desired hearing aid, you’ll be fitted with your new device. This means ensuring the hearing aids have a good physical fit (i.e. sits snugly and comfortably in the ear) and adjusting the hearing aid settings to suit your hearing needs and preferences.
After which, your audiologist will touch on how to use, care for and maintain your hearing aid. You’ll also be given some time to familiarise yourself with the device, including practising wearing and operating it, and changing the batteries.
Step 4: Hearing aid review
Within the next 1 – 3 months of wearing your hearing aid, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled. During this session, you may share any concerns you have about the hearing device with your audiologist. Your audiologist will also revise the key information regarding the usage and maintenance of the device to ensure that you’re managing it well.
Subsequently, follow-up appointments will be scheduled once every 6 months or once every year to monitor your hearing aid and ensure that it’s in good working condition.
FAQs About Getting a Hearing Aid
Can I get hearing aids without a doctor?
No, hearing aids are classified as regulated medical devices in Singapore and must, therefore, be registered with the Health Sciences Authority (HSA). You’ll need to take a hearing test and consult a hearing care professional before getting your hearing aid fitted.
If you would like to get hearing aids, book an appointment to speak to one of our audiologists.
What is the average cost of a hearing aid?
The price of a hearing aid can range from $800 – $8,100 per piece, depending on the brand, mode, features and technology. Devices that feature advanced hearing aid technology such as Oticon hearing aids can cost anywhere from $1,605 per piece (including GST).
Can I get hearing aids for free?
No, you cannot get hearing aids for free in Singapore. However, there are subsidies available to make these devices more affordable, namely the Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund and Assistive Technology Fund.
Can I use MediSave for hearing aids?
MediSave cannot be used to purchase hearing aids. However, you can apply for subsidies such as the Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund or Assistive Technology Fund to offset the cost of these devices.