I Was Told I Needed A Hearing Aid At 30

My Phonak hearing aid (tiny right?!)
Samantha Baines
My Phonak hearing aid (tiny right?!)

Last July I went for a hearing test and was told I needed a hearing aid in one ear. I had just turned 30 and was utterly shocked.

11 million people in the UK are currently living with hearing loss. Yep you heard (ho ho ho it’s a hearing loss joke), 11 million! That is 1 in 6 people in the UK. Look around you right now. Are you at work? On public transport? In a park? “Come on Sam, this is the UK it is too cold to read in the park”. You are of course right; the only people who read in parks are people in romantic comedies or groups of giggly ladies waiting for the Diet Coke man. Okay, not a park but wherever you are, look around. If you can see a group of around six people chances are one of them has hearing loss, because that’s how fractions work. Chances are one person in your family has hearing loss and it might even be you.

The reason I went to see a doctor in the first place was because I have a strange sounding tinnitus (I didn’t realise it was Tinnitus at the time as I thought tinnitus was only a ringing noise). My Tinnitus sounds like a wavering noise, like wind being moved around with force. So I went to the Doctors because I thought I had a spider living in my ear. This is absolutely true! You see, the wavering wind noise could have also been a spider building nest and we have all seen those Youtube videos and the film Alien! That’s when I got sent for the hearing test after first being told that there definitely wasn’t a spider living in there. Phew!

To test your hearing they send you for a ‘beep test’. Now, the only beep test I had done before was the one you did at school where you run between the cones with the sound of the beep so I turned up in full lycra. There was an 80 year old man in the waiting room and I thought, “he’s going to struggle”. It wasn’t like that though. For a hearing beep test they just play beeps and you click a button when you hear them, it doesn’t hurt or anything and you get put in a little box with a window, to do it. The box is probably the scariest bit of it as it’s like one of those boxes that they put you in the sea in when you go swimming with sharks.

So, I have moderate hearing loss in one ear. The levels go mild, moderate, severe so I guess I have medium hearing loss or Grande hearing loss if it was a Starbucks drink. Usually you lose your hearing in both ears at a similar rate so it’s fairly unusual that my right ear is more impacted than my left. That meant I needed an MRI but no brain tumours here so hurrah! Having a tumour on one side can cause one-sided hearing loss, which is not a fun phrase to hear or read on Wikipedia for a total hypochondriac like me! Oh yea, I am a hypochondriac - remember the spider thing. I probably won’t ever know what caused my hearing loss, I think it was standing too close to a speaker at a Limp Bizkit concert aged 12. It’s sad that my hearing was damaged by Limp Bizkit but listening to their music later in life, it is not really a shock.

So now I have a hearing aid and it’s actually awesome. I got it privately (because the NHS is seven years behind the private sector when it comes to hearing aids and they should be saved for people who can’t afford it). My Phonak hearing aid is tiny, it fits inside my ear, you can hardly see it and it’s changed my life.

I also got in touch with the Action on Hearing Loss charity and British Tinnitus Association who are awesome and have loads of resources that make you feel less alone.

So I am now 31 and I have a hearing aid and it’s great.

If you are worried about your hearing, get it checked. If someone advises you need a hearing aid, get one - it’s just like glasses and will make your life so much easier! If you are worried about hearing loss or tinnitus do get in touch with the organisations I mentioned or feel free to tweet me if you want to chat!