Your GP may refer you to the HSE audiology service for hearing tests.
After some hearing tests, a hearing specialist (audiologist) may recommend a hearing aid for you or your child.
The specialist may also give you an individual management plan. This plan shows you how your hearing loss will be treated using hearing aids.
Types of hearing aids the HSE offers
The types of hearing aids we offer are:
- multi-channel - they can switch between different pitches of sound
- multi-programme - you can programme them for different sound environments
- behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
Covering the cost of hearing aids
The HSE audiology service gives free hearing aids to anyone under the age of 18.
Adults with a medical card can also get free hearing aids.
Treatment Benefit Scheme
If you are over 18 and do not have a medical card you may qualify for the Treatment Benefit Scheme. If you have made enough PRSI contributions you are eligible for a grant of up to €500 for each hearing aid.
The scheme also pays half the cost of hearing aid repairs.
If you do not qualify for the Treatment Benefit Scheme, you have to pay for a hearing aid. But you may be able to claim the tax back.
Private health insurance
If you have health insurance, check if your policy covers the cost of hearing aids. If it does not cover costs you may be able to claim tax relief on hearing aids.
Children and adults with a medical card can have their HSE hearing aids checked or repaired at:
Replacing hearing aids
Children and adults with a medical card can get a replacement aid if there is a clinical reason.
Contact your local audiology service about lost aids or devices that cannot be repaired.
Measuring your ear
If the hearing specialist recommends a hearing aid, they will measure the ear.
They take an impression using a material like putty. This is used to make a mould that sits inside the ear and connects to the hearing aid.
You'll get a fitting appointment to have the mould and hearing aid fitted. The mould is usually ready in a few weeks.
Hearing aids are fitted in a clinic.
This may be in:
- the same clinic where you had a hearing test
- a primary care centre
Sometimes hearing aids are fitted the same day as a hearing test. For example, this could happen if you need an open-ear hearing aid that does not need an earmould.
During the fitting appointment, the hearing specialist will:
- fit the mould and hearing aid
- trim and adjust the mould so it's comfortable
- program the hearing aid based on the results of your hearing tests
- check and adjust the hearing aid so that you or your child can hear comfortably
- explain how the hearing aid works
- show you how to put on and take off the hearing aid
- show you how to clean and maintain the hearing aid
- give you advice about how to use the hearing aid in different situations
The hearing specialist will also arrange a follow-up appointment.
After you have your hearing aid fitted you will have a follow-up appointment to check that it is working properly.
Adults have a follow-up appointment around 6 weeks after getting a hearing aid.
The hearing specialist will ask how you've been getting on with using the hearing aid.
They may also:
- reprogram or fine-tune the hearing aid
- give you more advice about how to use the hearing aid
- recommend other things that could help, such as aural therapy or assistive devices
- arrange another follow-up appointment, if needed
Children and babies
Children have a follow-up appointment around 6 to 8 weeks after getting a hearing aid. They will need to go to a clinic for regular hearing aid reviews throughout their childhood.
How often they need an appointment depends on their age.
0 to 2 years
Children under 2 will have a hearing aid review at least once every 3 months.
2 to 5 years
Children aged 2 to 5 years will have a hearing aid review at least once every 6 months.
5 or more years
Children aged 5 and over will have a review at least once a year.
If your child's hearing loss changes, they may need to come into the clinic more often.
At the appointments, the hearing specialist will:
- reprogram your child's hearing aid based on their most recent hearing test
- measure your child’s ears again
- check if your child's earmould fits
- take an impression for a new earmould, if needed
- check your child's level of hearing with their aids in and switched on
- give advice about how to deal with any problems or concerns that you or your child have
- give advice about any other listening devices that may help
- give you a report about your child's hearing loss
- ask you if they can share the report with other professionals involved in your child's care
Replacement earmoulds for babies
As your baby grows, they may need to have new earmoulds made.
You may need to bring them to a clinic for a new earmould impression every 2 to 3 weeks in the first few months of their life.