A (personal) story by Frieder Kühne
Every year the third of March marks world hearing day. The WHO estimates that 1 in 5 people have hearing loss and 1 in 4 are experiencing some form of tinnitus. Most people are unaware that thearing issues and tinnitus can have a significant impact on mental health and overall wellbeing. Hearing loss has been linked to dementia, depression and other severe diseases.
I have been wearing a hearing aid for over seven years now. Being born deaf on one ear, hearing has always been a bit of a struggle to me. When the ENT doctor first told me I could benefit from a hearing aid, I didn’t want to realise that it would really help me, as I did not see myself as someone wearing a hearing aid at a young age.
I thought to myself “I’m not a grandpa and I don’t want to look like one next to all my classmates at university”. Only slowly I realised that the hearing aid did a massive job in helping me especially in the classes where girls would speak quietly with their voices low and me needing all my concentration in order to be able to understand them. When I realised how much of a support system the hearing aid was, I stopped hesitating and started wearing it.
A few years later now I believe that hearing aids, like glasses, serve a purpose of restrengthening one of your senses and there is nothing wrong with it. Avoiding the stigma can send you down a road of isolation and despair. The hearing aid can allow participation and more important: stimulates your brain.
Hearing more of what’s going on around me helped shifting the focus away from tinnitus and onto other important parts of my life.
So who can benefit from hearing aids when suffering from tinnitus?
A hearing aid can benefit many people, however the more severe your hearing loss, the bigger the impact of a hearing aid to drown out your tinnitus. If you are unsure, book an ENT specialist appointment, have them check your hearing and they will know whether a hearing aid will be beneficial for you or not.
Important for expectation management: while there are hearing aids that have noisers etc. to further distract from the tinnitus sound, the hearing aid itself does not change the fact that you have tinnitus. The sound will still be there, it just sounds less intrusive as the outside world will be back stronger ;). This also helps you in connecting to the world and people again, supporting you to overcome tinnitus related depression
So what hearing aid should I get?:
Usually the audiologist will probably want to try and sell you one of their higher priced models, well it’s their job, it makes their living. Try as many models in different price ranges and see which one fits your hearing needs the best (e.g sounds the best to you). If you are not sure whether the audiologist you chose is also giving you lower priced options, go see another one and ask them for a different option. The hearing aid space is a highly competitive environment, and when choosing to get one, you can use that as your advantage.
It doesn’t always have to be the highest priced model that also comes with bluetooth functionality etc, basic models can have a great impact on the level of perceived tinnitus intensity (my model does allow me to take calls and listen to podcasts, which I think is a strength and I really enjoy being able to use this feature as a strength among something that is generally perceived as a weakness). I don’t need to plug my airpods in and out throughout the day ;), however, before not getting one at all stick to a simple and base model that you can afford.If you do decide on getting a hearing aid, see whether you negotiate a discount between 10 and 20% off the original asking price. They will have a window of negotiating possibilities and you should use that.
In the end if you’re not sure about all this, hit me with an email or private message and I will strive to help you with it :). Go to outringtinnitus.com to find out more
Hearing aids are important, they can even save lives! Let’s spread the message and make people’s hearing better, in that way we get them back into society.
Happy hearing everyone!