HEARING AIDs: what to expect


Hearing aids are programmed to safely and comfortably amplify sounds in the range of your hearing loss. For optimal benefit, it is essential that these devices are fit by a hearing professional following a comprehensive hearing and ear health assessment.

What do hearing aids do?

Hearing aids are ear-worn personal amplification devices that are programmed based on your audiogram to safely amplify sounds in the range of your hearing loss. It is not possible to restore 'normal' hearing using hearing aids, but they will assist you to hear sounds that would otherwise not be audible to you. This may improve your quality of life by allowing you to hear and communicate more easily, participate in social activities and be more independent. 

Hearing aid technology spans from 'basic' to 'premium' across all hearing aid styles and brands. The cost of hearing aids is largely determined by the complexity of the digital sound processing features available in the different technology levels. Lower level hearing aids will perform best in one-to-one or very small group situations, with background noise reduced as much as possible. They are adequate for the essential listening needs of someone with a quiet everyday lifestyle, e.g. conversation around the home, watching TV and using the phone. For those with busier lifestyles and more complex listening needs, higher level technology may be more appropriate in order to support you in more demanding listening environments. During your appointment, your Audiologist will discuss your preferences with you and make style and technology recommendations based on your hearing test results and listening goals.

How much do hearing aids cost?

Our hearing aid prices range from approximately $1200 up to $5000 each. Any quote provided by us includes our Fitting and Service Bundle, which ensures that your hearing aid is fitted and fine tuned to meet your listening goals, as well as providing you with 12 months of support to help you through your acclimatisation period. Your audiologist will discuss this with you in more detail, but it is recommended that you consider your budget prior to your appointment. We will work closely with you to ensure that we find the best option for you that meets your requirements.

Australian Government Pensioners are eligible for fully subsidised 'basic' level hearing aids under the Office of Hearing Services Voucher Program. For those who desire better technology to suit the demands of their lifestyle, a subsidy equal to the contribution for basic level devices is available. In that case, you would pay the 'top-up' cost, or the difference in cost between the free-to-client option and your chosen hearing aids. The Voucher also covers the cost of your hearing aid assessment.

What are the ongoing costs?

Ongoing costs include batteries and general maintenance items (e.g. wax protectors), review appointments for fine-tuning and adjustments to keep pace with your hearing changes, and out-of-warranty servicing, repairs or spare parts. Listing the hearing aids under your Private Home and Contents Insurance to cover for loss or damage is highly recommended, although it may attract higher premiums.

Australian Government Pensioners under the Voucher Program may choose to take advantage of the Hearing Aid Maintenance Contract. For an annual fee of approximately $44 this will cover all batteries, maintenance and repairs for hearing aids fitted under the Program. This Contract also serves as an insurance policy against loss or damage, to the value of 'basic' level hearing aids (excess $40 per aid). If you choose to 'top-up', listing the difference cost with your Private Insurance is also recommended to ensure a replacement of equal quality can be obtained, if required.

With proper care and maintenance, hearing aids have an expected lifespan of approximately 5 years or more. Like all electronics, exposure to dust, heat, and moisture may affect the life or quality of the aids, although some hearing aids are more resistant to these factors than others.

Modern hearing aids

Unlike old-fashioned hearing aids which were large and cumbersome, the vast majority of modern hearing aids are much smaller and more attractive, with high-fidelity digital sound processing. Modern hearing aids analyse, process and amplify incoming sound to make soft sounds audible, loud sounds comfortable, and speech as clear and intelligible as possible. Digital technology has allowed hearing aids to make huge advances, including automatic adjustments as your listening environment changes, advanced signal processing strategies which reduce interfering noise and help you to focus on what you want to hear in challenging listening situations, and seamless integration with other technologies, such as mobile phones and Bluetooth compatible devices.  

To determine which type of hearing aid is best suited to you, a number of important factors need to be considered, including;

  • The results of your Hearing Assessment

  • The size, shape and health of your ear(s)

  • The physical limitations of each style of hearing aid

  • Your preferences - style, size, colour, cost, controls, features

  • Your daily activities and lifestyle

To learn about the hearing aid fitting process, see Hearing Aid Fitting.

Hearing Aid Styles:

Standard BTE (behind the ear)
As the name suggests, a BTE hearing aid sits behind your ear. The amplified sound travels down a tube to the front of your ear and a custom ear mould is used to direct the sound down the ear canal. BTE aids can be fit to almost any degree of hearing loss and offer a wide variety of sizes, technology, colours and controls. 

Slim-tube/open fit BTE (behind the ear)
A more discreet BTE option for lesser degrees of hearing loss. Slim-tube BTEs keep your ear canal open and well ventilated so that you can make the most of your natural hearing, only providing amplification where it is needed.

*This example is a larger model. Smaller models are available, comparable to the RIC style below.

RIC1.jpg

RIC/RITE (receiver in canal or receiver in the ear)
Similar to the conventional BTE hearing aids, RIC/RITE devices have a behind the ear component, which houses the microphone and most of the electronics; however, they have a thin wire running down the front of the ear to a small speaker (receiver) which is positioned within the ear canal. They are generally very small and discrete devices, and the speaker size can be matched to suit most hearing losses. 

ITE (in the ear)
ITE aids are the larger of the ‘custom’ devices that are placed in the bowl of the ear. The size is usually due to being more powerful and thus requiring a larger battery, as well as the addition of directional microphones and/or manual controls. Larger custom devices may also be more appropriate for people with reduced dexterity.

ITC (in the canal)
Approximately half the size of an ITE, but still large enough for some manual controls.

CIC (completely in the canal)
These aids fit neatly within the ear canal. Due to their size, they are very discrete and generally automatic or fitted with a program button only. CIC aids may be appropriate for fitting up to a moderate loss.

IIC (invisible in canal)
IIC aids fit very deeply within the ear canal and are essentially ‘invisible’. They tend to be too small and deep to have ear-level manual controls, but remote controls may be used. Due to their close proximity to the ear drum, IIC devices may fit up to a moderate-severe hearing loss. 

Body Worn Aids
Body aids are worn clipped to shirt pocket or in a neck pouch and attached via a cable to an ear mould. There are some instances where this type of hearing aid is preferred over both the behind the ear or custom styles of hearing aids. It would most appropriately be fitted to a patient with a profound mixed hearing loss, or to someone of reduced mobility where only sounds from the front would need to be heard.

For more information on hearing aids and accessories offered by our hearing aid suppliers, please follow the links below: