A hearing specialist (audiologist) may recommend a hearing aid for you or your child after doing some hearing tests.
They may give you an individual management plan, showing you how they plan to treat you or your child's hearing loss using hearing aids.
The HSE audiology service offers hearing aids for free to all children under the age of 18. Adults with a medical card can get free digital hearing aids through the service.
Supports available to cover hearing aid costs
With the Treatment Benefit Scheme, the Department of Social Protection pays half the cost from particular hearing aid suppliers. This is up to a maximum of €500 for each hearing aid, every 4 years. It also pays half the cost of repairs to hearing aids.
Otherwise, you'll have to pay to get a hearing aid through the service.
If you have private health insurance, check with your insurance company whether your policy covers hearing aid costs.
You may also be able to claim tax relief on hearing aids.
Types of hearing aids the HSE audiology service offer
The type of hearing aids we offer are:
- multi-channel (they can switch between different pitches of sound)
- multi-programme (you can programme them for different listening conditions or sound environments)
- 'behind the ear' type
Measuring your ear
If the audiologist recommends a hearing aid, they will measure your or your child's ear.
They will take an impression of your ear using a material like putty. The manufacturer then uses this impression to make a custom-fit mould that sits inside your ear and connects to the hearing aid.
You'll then be given an appointment to have the mould and hearing aid fitted. The mould is usually ready in a few weeks.
You'll go back to the clinic to have the hearing aid fitted. This may be the same clinic where you had your hearing test or a primary care centre.
In some cases the hearing aids may be fitted on the same day as your test. For example, if you need an open ear hearing aid that does not require 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.
Adults are offered a follow-up appointment after about 6 weeks of wearing a hearing aid.
At the appointment, the hearing specialist will ask how you've been getting on with and using the hearing aid.
They may also:
- re-program or fine-tune the hearing aid
- give you more advice about how to use the hearing aid
- recommend other things that could help you, like aural therapy or assistive devices
- discharge you from the audiology service or arrange another follow-up appointment
Children and babies
Children usually have their first follow-up appointment 6 to 8 weeks after they start wearing a hearing aid.
They will also need to come to the clinic for regular hearing aid review appointments throughout their childhood.
How often they need an appointment depends on their age:
- for children under 2, they'll need a hearing aid review at least once every 3 months
- for children aged 2 to 5 years, they'll need a hearing aid review at least once every 6 months
- for children aged 5 and over, they'll need 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 review appointments, the hearing specialist will:
- re-program your child's hearing aid based on their most recent hearing test
- re-measure your child’s ears
- check the fit of your child's current ear mould
- take an impression for a new mould 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 ear moulds for babies
As your baby grows, you may also need to make extra appointments to have new ear moulds made.
You may need to bring your baby to the clinic for a new ear mould impression every 2 to 3 weeks in the first few months of their life.