A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Hearing Aids Made New

In Audiologists, Hearing aids, Hearing Loss, Lip Reading, Tinnitus on July 18, 2012 at 11:56 am

 Proper programming of hearing aids is so important.

  It’s been over a year so it was time for me to get a hearing test. My good ear didn’t feel like my good anymore. My hearing aids didn’t seem to be doing the job so I thought my hearing dropped again.  I found a new audiologist through our HLAA meetings and he also sits on the state Advisory Council with me. His family has been in the hearing aid business for a long time.  As a teenager, he built his first hearing aid. He has a doctorate in audiology somehow and he calls himself “a hearing aid nerd.”  He doesn’t have a hearing loss but he wears hearing aids because he likes their technology so much. He’s very knowledgeable about all products hearing related. (He’s presenting at our SWC convention.) Impressed with him and what he does, I made my hearing test appointment with their business.

  When  I made the appointment a month or so ago, they asked me to bring a family member.  I explained my boyfriend may be working and then asked why?
  “We have the family member give the word discrimination test.”
  “Why?” I asked with shock. “Of course I’m going to understand my family better than anyone. That hardly seems like a fair representation of the world at large for me.”
  The receptionist shrugged her shoulders. The guy who just serviced my hearing aids shrugged his shoulders so when I got home, I rattled off a long email to the hearing aid nerd.
  Here’s what he wrote: ” 1) it is important to know how well you understand someone who has not been trained to speak clearly and whose voice you will hear on a regular basis. 2) many of our patients are very skeptical. It helps them realize we are not fudging the test to make it seem that they hear worse than what they are truly capable of. 3) if it turns out that you (or any patient) needs a new hearing aid it is nice to have someone there that you trust helping you make that decision. We work with seniors and as such they can be vulnerable. We never want anyone to feel that we pressured them into something, so having a family member there gives you more backup.”  So I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
  Yesterday was my hearing test and it was his dad who gave me the test. I brought my daughter feeling like she is a better representation of the rest of the world for me. They asked how well I understand her and she said, “She’s uses me as her interpreter all the time,” so we decided I hear her better than most people. He asked lots of questions, more questions than I’ve ever been asked. Tell me about your hearing, what’s your history? What’s difficult for you? Is it hereditary? Do you have tinnitus?  Why did you switch audiologists? What else do I need to know? And more but I can’t remember them all. He checked my hearing aids and said they sounded good to him.
  My daughter sat across the table from me, he sat in the middle and me opposite of my daughter. No sound proof booth. I like that and the word discrimination test ended up being totally different than I expected it to be. He explained they use short simple words to make it a little harder to piece together sounds, we hard of hearing people are so good at that. He had me take out one hearing aid, left side first.  I closed my eyes and my daughter read words from a list he pointed to. I got 30% with that ear. I switched hearing aids and she read another list, I got 20%. Then he had me put my right aid back in and plug my open ear. My speech discrimination was ZERO.  I hear better un-aided. Not good news he said. 
  Another realization hit me while listening to all this. I must lip read a whole better than I give myself credit for.  I guess when I’m relaxed or just doing my thing, it comes easy without thinking about it.  The harder I try, the worse I get.
  Next we did the actual hearing test in the same room. He told me because I have tinnitus, he’s going to use a warbly beep instead of the straight beep. No one offered that before. Usually it’s hard for me to tell the straight beeps from my tinnitus. He slipped headphones over my ears right there at the table and had me close my eyes again.  It turned out my hearing hadn’t changed much but we needed to do something about getting my hearing aids to help me more so he turned me over to his son, the hearing aid nerd.
  He changed my main program drastically. He moved things around and pressed buttons without calling the company, yay! My daughter, him and I started talking to how the new settings worked. Too much “sh-sh” sound I told him. He clicked a button on the computer and it was gone. Both his and my daughter’s voice sounded richer. He turned on some background noise to make sure things were okay. He did a quick word discrimination test with me with my aids in and eyes closed (easier for me to hear men) and I was to 50% discrimination. In that small office, things already sounded a lot different. I felt like I had new hearing aids. He asked me to wear them for 10 hours a day. I groaned so he added if things got too loud, I should turn them down instead of taking them out.  Then we set up an appointment next week for any necessary adjustments. I walked out of the office feeling good about the whole experience. I was there for two hours and they didn’t even charge me. Wow! People who care.
  Traffic noise outside hit me hard. I went to my noise reduction program.  I waited a few minutes and felt like my eyes were tearing up so I turned the volume down next. That was okay.
  I could hear my daughter in the car easier. Road noise wasn’t overriding the conversation, that’s good. At home I heard new tones on the wind chime. I kept asking what certain noises were; dishwasher has a small barking sound to it at times, the chickens make a funny sound and his phone makes a weird sound when emails are sent that I’ve never heard before. The toilet flushing sounds horrendous making run out of the bathroom as fast as I can. 
  I wore them for ten hours yesterday and by the time I took them out, I was exhausted! Brain dead! My boyfriend tried talking to me as I laid down and I told him, “I”m sorry. I’ve had about all I can take of hearing today,” and sent him away. I fell asleep fast and slept hard.  
 Today I am waiting to put my hearing aids in until later. I have four hours worth of meetings tonight.  I usually stay and visit with people so I just know I will be really glad to take them out again and crawl into bed. I hope my brain adjusts to all the new noise soon. If not, the volume has got to come down.
  I have audiologist hopped since I moved here. I brought my hearing aids two and a half years ago. That guy seemed all right at first but he didn’t really listen to me. He only wanted to make small changes here and there. My second try with an audiologist was a lady who reset my program according to what the computer wanted, not adjusting anything. The third guy didn’t know my hearing aids at all and had to call Phonak to get issues straightened up. Listening and hearing are two different things and I feel like these guys listened to me. Time and probably more adjustments will tell but I think I found the right people.  If you’re in doubt about your hearing aids, keep looking. We don’t have to settle.
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  1. I hope that I am one day able to find an audiologist who gets it right, one who believes what I say . The background noise is horrible. I can hear all mechanical sounds better than voices.

    • So glad you found someone you like. I’ve found it was a lot more difficult to work with anyone once the hearing got into the profound loss range. I know my aids need adjusting again–I learned that somehow the audi doesn’t have the t-coil settings working. I have no idea how that happened–must have turned them off. I hope you’ll post again after awhile to let us know how it’s going.

      • i had three different kinds of hearing aids, the best was phonax, at half the price with LLoyds, in Rockford, Ill. my last pair with them lasted me 11 yrs, never seem to need adjustments, this pair i have now has 3 adjustments for different inviroments, also beeps when my batteries are going a big plus. i have been so happy with them, this time i mailed in a audiology test and fittings, my confidence in phonacs and Lloyds.

  2. I have a profound loss in the high frequencies. It’s not easy right now, some sounds are cool and some sounds hurt. I like the new sounds but we are going to have to tweak this program some. The audiologist himself said it could take 10 times to get it just right.
    My hearing aids pick up some background noise, mechanical sounds, but it’s tolerable. A couple of months ago, I had him adjust my microphones more forward on my noise reduced setting. That helped a lot.
    Jan! T-coil is so important. That would bother me.
    Reba, I sure hope my hearing aids last 11 years. The most I’ve ever gotten out of hearing aids were 6 years. Once because I let my hearing aid get run over (long story) but the other three times because my hearing loss outgrew my hearing aids. Eleven years sounds awesome. Since my hearing loss hasn’t changed much in the last couple of years, maybe I it’s not progressing anymore??? (Knock on wood)

  3. Sounds like you found a keeper!

    I’m a Hearing Instrument Specialist and see a lot of patients who already wear hearing aids. A lot of the time the specialist they’d been working with before set them up well, but there are times that I review the programming or model selected and just cringe at what I see! One in particular comes to mind who had bought hearing aids 3 years ago from an audiologist. He kept telling her it was “too loud” so she kept turning them down. When I saw him she’d already turned the gain down to nearly zero across the board!!! There were some inconsistencies between the earmold style and the software settings so I could see why the aids were always “too loud” and where she’d gotten stumped. 20 minutes later I had him loving how his old aids sounded and wondering why it took him 3 years to try going somewhere else!

    A couple suggestions I might make for you (which the professional you’re working with may have already brought up):
    1: Consider getting a companion mic. These can run a couple hundred dollars and require hearing aids with wireless capabilities, but the idea is you can place the companion microphone anywhere nearby (e.g. in the backseat of the car or clipped onto a friend’s shirt when you’re out somewhere busy). Noise reduction systems can also work great in these settings to a certain point, but companion mics open up a lot of new possibilities!
    2: If water running and paper crinkling is still too loud for you in a week or two you might ask the professional you’re working with to turn down the “MPOs” (maximum power output). This will make these sounds less piercing without affecting how you hear softer sounds at those same frequencies.

    Sounds like you’re off to a great start with rediscovering what you’re hearing aids can do. Good luck!

    • Thank you for the suggestions and I’m sure they will help everyone who reads this piece. I’m so glad you left a reply. I’m trying to get used to noise again but some of it is irritating. Walking on gravel reminds me of someone chewing with their mouth open, lol.

  4. The reason why it is better to seek your audiologist advice if your are planning to have your hearing aid. They know what is the proper programmed hearing aid for you.

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