Considering hearing aids? Here are a few things you should know first


Hearing aids enable you to enjoy conversations with less effort. Photo: Getty Images

Hearing loss can be a frustrating condition to live with. You may often feel left out of conversations, and unable to participate at family gatherings, or social events with friends. You may find television has become increasingly challenging to hear and understand. Many activities you previously enjoyed now seem tiring or perhaps even anxiety-inducing. In the worst-case scenarios, you may feel isolated and depressed by your hearing loss.

Fortunately, hearing aids can be a great help with many of these concerns. It can be daunting, though, when first considering hearing aids, and it is unfortunately something many people put off for quite some time. Perhaps you’re concerned about how they might look on your ears, how expensive they might be (if not pursuing them through the NHS), or simply just adapting to something new as part of your daily routine. In my work as a clinical audiologist, I have noticed that there are several things worth keeping in mind if you are indeed considering hearing aids, which I will discuss in this article.


This is probably the first and foremost thing to think about before you get hearing aids. What’s motivating you to pursue hearing aids? Is it because you have noticed all the difficulties you’ve been having with your hearing and want to improve your quality of life? Or do you feel  you hear well enough, but your family are complaining and pushing you to get hearing aids? While it is common for your loved ones to notice you are struggling with your hearing before you do, it is important for you to recognise the challenges you are having yourself. If you don’t, then you are unlikely to feel motivated to wear your hearing aids — and the times that you do wear them, you may feel that they aren’t helping you.

Consistent Use

This leads to the next factor to consider before getting hearing aids— how often you think you’ll be using them. People generally do best with hearing aids if they wear them on a consistent, daily basis, ideally for most of the waking day.

Some people will get hearing aids with the intention of wearing them only in specific instances, such as for watching TV, or going out to a restaurant. The problem with this is that the brain (which processes all the sounds that the ears hear) will have difficulty adapting to hearing through a hearing aid. The brain can become overwhelmed with lots of sound all at once and will have trouble filtering out the sounds it wants to focus on, from the sounds that it doesn’t want to pay attention to. This can contribute to a sense of hearing more poorly with the hearing aids than without them, which would undoubtedly be disappointing and discouraging. I would therefore only recommend hearing aids if you feel you would be willing to wear them consistently.

Size Isn’t Everything

With hearing aids, many people are keen for the smallest possible options. While very small, sometimes even invisible hearing aids are feasible, these hearing aids aren’t always going to be the best choice. The smaller a hearing aid is, the less technologically advanced it can be. Choosing the smallest style could limit the benefit you may be able to receive from hearing aids. Modern day hearing aids are discreet and cosmetically appealing devices, and you may well be satisfied with their appearance without choosing the absolute smallest model available.

Realistic Expectations

It is important to remember that a hearing aid is just that — an aid. Hearing aids cannot restore your hearing to what it once was, and they won’t allow you to hear perfectly in all situations. It also takes some patience and perseverance to fully adapt to hearing with hearing aids, and to fully benefit from them. Hearing aids are best thought of as being able to reduce the effort you put into hearing and listening and will help you to stay engaged with the world around you.

Consider the Audiologist, Not Just the Hearing Aids

In the private sector, hearing aids are available at different price points. More advanced, better performing models will be more expensive than basic ones. Additionally, many audiologists bundle some of their services into the price of the hearing aids. This means you aren’t just paying for a piece of equipment, but rather for a service from a healthcare professional to help you maximise the benefit you can get from the hearing aids.

The audiologist will help guide you in the best hearing aid options, considering your degree of hearing loss and lifestyle. They will then program a prescription for your hearing into the hearing aids. The settings can then be further fine-tuned and adjusted based on your needs.

There are also numerous tests and measurements that are completed to ensure the hearing aids are working optimally, and adaptations can be made if the hearing aids are found not to be performing to the expected standard. Therefore, I would argue that a good audiologist is probably more critical than a “good” hearing aid. The most expensive hearing aid out there will not prove its worth if it hasn’t been fitted by a properly trained audiologist.

While not a comprehensive list, the above factors are a good starting point for what to keep in mind on your journey to better hearing. With the help of a good audiologist and good pair of hearing aids, along with some motivation from yourself and your loved ones, you can be well on your way to making your life easier and more enriching.

Dr David Engelman is a clinical audiologist based in Finchley, North London, and runs the independent audiology practice, Finchley Hearing. He also maintains a senior audiologist position with an NHS hospital trust serving Hertfordshire and Essex. He can be reached at, 020 8050 4518, For more articles that discuss additional hearing aid considerations, David’s blog can be found at​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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