The Most Frequently Asked Questions in audiology

There are some questions that frequently arise in clinic-here is a breakdown of some common audiology questions. 


The more you wear your hearing aids, the more natural they become. There is usually an acclimatisation period when you first get hearing aids. This is the time that it takes for you and your brain to adjust to using the hearing aids and for some people, it helps to build up use of their hearing aids in order to get used to them at the beginning.

Hearing aids channel sound towards your eardrum and on to your brain to be processed. This means blocking your ear to different degrees according to your hearing loss. This is called the occlusion effect. It may be possible to reduce some of this occlusion by adding a vent or adjusting some settings in your hearing aids. However, this can increase the risk of whistling from your hearing aids. 

Ears will naturally withdraw any earwax. If you do not have any pre-existing medical ear conditions you can use a little bit of olive oil to help soften any earwax and clean your ears. If you have earwax that is causing your hearing aid to whistle or cauging you discomfort then it is best to get your ears cleaned professionally.
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Hearing aids work with how much hearing you have left and therefore cannot replace your natural hearing. It takes time to get used to wearing hearing aids. This is called the acclimatisation period. 

The way a hearing aid functions depends on several factors, including your degree of hearing loss, how they have been fitted and how much you understand about how they will work.  NHS departments usually have contracts with a single manufacturer, this means less choice for you in terms of technical ability and hearing aid style. You will have more access to different hearing aid types including rechargeable hearing aids by purchasing hearing aids privately.

Wearing a hearing aid in both ears allows them to mimic the way our ears work together and helps with the localisation of sound. Wearing two hearing aids can also help with speech in a background noise situation.

There are various digital hearing aids that have a tinnitus setting. These settings range from turning your hearing aids into a tinnitus masker or allowing you to listen to ‘calm’ sounds through your hearing aid to help with relaxation. Whilst these techniques can help with tinnitus; understanding the mechanisms of tinnitus, learning some breathing and relaxation techniques and mindfulness behavioural therapy have been shown to be most effective.
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Sound travels from the processing chip in your hearing into your ears. The first thing to do is to make sure that you have inserted your hearing aid correctly. If it isn’t, the sound leaks out of your ear causing your hearing aid to whistle. This is called feedback. If you have earwax preventing the sound from getting through, it can also cause feedback. Ask your audiologist to examine your ears. It may also be possible to make adjustments to your hearing aid settings to reduce the whistling.
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If your hearing aid is Bluetooth friendly it means that it can connect to devices like your smartphone. This allows you to stream e.g. from your iPhone directly to your hearing aid and also allows you to use hearing aid apps to control your hearing aid settings. 

There are six main hearing aid brands; Phonak, Starkey, Oticon, GN ReSound, Widex and Signia. Each manufacturer has a catalogue of different hearing aid products and these vary in technical ability and styles. Hearing aids can be custom made to fit the shape of your ear or rest over the ear. Prices vary according to the technical ability of the hearing aid. The ‘smarter’ the hearing aid, the more expensive the hearing aids are.
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There are different types of earplugs for sleeping. Foam disposable earplugs are commonly used and cheap to buy. An environmentally friendly and more comfortable alternative would be custom made earplugs for sleeping that can be cleaned well, dampen noise and last longer. Learn more.