Tell me about "hearing aids"

Its been a long road. I have known for some time my hearing was “not great” and last year I had problems with a perforated ear drum that has left my right ear significantly weak. This past week my sinus infection lead to my left ear being totally blocked, my right ear perfed again and I spent about three days with basically no hearing at all. It has improved some, and will continue to improve (at least on the left) but my diagnosis is Mixed Hearing Loss and the bluntest answer is"YOu need them. Especially in the right, but in the left too. Even when things heal up, even when your left finally drains, you need them. You are in the range of “social deafness”

So I am starting to find out all about this on Monday, I have coverage starting in August, my benefits will cover some but not all of a hearing aid. I can hear my husband if my right ear is unblocked and he is looking at me, I hear some but not all background noise, and I think I am coping.

So, tell me about hearing aids, your experiences, what I should look for etc.

*What? Huh? …oh you called? *:smiley: I have almost exactly 30 years of experiance wearing hearing aids. And no, my first aid wasn’t a body worn or an ear horn. :smiley:
The key is, you need to try out hearing aids and see what works best for YOU. Everyone’s hearing loss is different, and responds differently to different amplification. THAT SAID, please try to avoid the dinky tiny aids. (the In the canal, in the ear and tinier ones) Even with all the advances in technology the dinky aids don’t amplify for more then a mild loss. I learned this the hard way. In jr high I got ITE aids, and thought I could hear, but was speechreading. Then I had an occasion to try a BTE…I wouldn’t take it out…LOL. Plus the BTEs tend to be a lot more durable and long lasting. PLUS you could get a BTE in your favorite color, (mine are purple) along with matching / contrasting earmolds. (and seriously the BTEs are not that noticable…one would think that they’re the size of a 1920’s body worn aid or ear horn.)

I went to an audiology school at a local university to get my hearing tested. They are not in the “business” of selling hearing aids, so I figured I’d get knowledgeable, impartial advice.

I’ve had mine for a couple of years. The brand is Oticon. Look over their website. When I first got them, I couldn’t believe how noisy the world is! In Wal-Mart, I could hear every squeaky cart, every kid, and even the HVAC system! Made me nuts!

Now I’m more used to them. The audiologist said I should wear them every waking hour, but since I live alone, I take them off when I get home.
I didn’t/dont have insurance to cover them, so I wrote a check for $3,600 for the pair. Mine are not top of the line-- they’re the “better” in a lineup of “good-better-best.”

If you need them now, get them now; don’t wait. I can’t imagine wearing only one; get two.

I have been wearing hearing aids for two years now. I’ve had high frequency hearing loss (or sensorineural hearing loss) all my life, but I finally broke down and decided to buy them because I couldn’t understand my coworkers in an office environment.

I bought Unitron Latitude BTEs. They cost $3,800 and my insurance covered about $800.

They took some time to get use to. No one told me this, but after you get your first pair of HAs you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your audiologist adjusting the settings. This is why it’s important to buy HAs from a good audiologist. This is important because the audiologist you buy HAs from will give you free adjustments. You won’t be able to switch audiologists unless you’re willing to pay around $200 per appointment for adjustments.

All audiologist are required by law to give you a free trial period for HAs. Use this time to see how your audiologist will help you adjust to your HAs. If he sucks, then return the HAs and find another doctor. When choosing a doctor, always ask him how he’ll help you adjust to your hearing aids once you’ve bought them.

My audiologist basically sold me my HAs without telling me anything about the free trial or the adjustment period. I kept coming back to tell him I couldn’t hear well with my HAs, but all he did was a trial and error adjustment. He didn’t have a strategy to figure out my problems or to adjust my HAs more efficiently. I had to pay $200 to get a second opinion from another audiologist, and because of his advice I can hear much more clearly now.

To sum up, focus on choosing the right doctor, and remember to abuse your free trial period. If you have the right doctor, everything else will fall in place.

I need to go in for a hearing check when I am home next month. Would those thirty-dollar ‘sound amplifiers’ help? They look (in size) like a twenty-year ago hearing aid. The trick of course is that they amplify everything, not just the frequencies I am having trouble with.

Well I have a referral to the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing so I am probably checking them out on Monday. I need something even a stop gap temporary solution so I can work, and then I can worry about fittings and things as I go along. I am going to see if the Neuro-Audiology unit where I had my most recent hearing test on Tursday will give me a copy of my test rather than have another one. (Its not so much paying for them, the testing is free, its sitting through those things. I find them wildly annoying verging on depressing.)

I understand the comfort/fit things are pretty personal and individualized… I am really concerned about being able to work as a nurse, on a pretty busy psych unit with hearing aids in. I know if all noise is amplified it will make me crazy but I need to distinguish general background chatter from something really urgent going on.

Also… using a stethoscope with hearing aides in. Not something I have to do everyday, but there are days where I have to. I shudder to think about missing the signs someone has a pneumonia or something.

I am really interested in your experience Lakai. I have been told for maybe the past 10 years I have sensorineural hearing loss, and would benefit from hearing aids. Easy enough for someone to say, but a lot harder to wrap my head around…But I’m only 33…etc etc. Last year was brutal I was essentially deaf for three weeks and I was really getting a lot of “push” from my boss to access a non profit organization and “deal with your issues”. I still could get past that, once my sinus infection resolved.

This time is it. I. Can’t. Function. I have some hearing now compared to a week ago, but today I was almost reduced to tears in Tim Hortons when the counter person was trying to tell me something with his back turned. Its emotionally exhausting and physically exhausted. I get so tired of saying “Pardon me?” and just give up. I am spectacularly lucky that my spouse has experienced loss of driving privileges (at age 27) due to poor vision. He understands adaptations. He understands why going to an Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is difficult. He also wants me to get the adaptive device I need (hearing aid) as soon as possible and to get whatever help I need.

Yes we are going to be a cute couple. The deaf leading the blind. We have joked about this for years, I just had no idea that the future was so near at hand.

I had one for a little while. I decided to try one when I was in college, and friends would try calling my name in the food court, and I would never hear them, even if they were screaming at the top of their lungs right next to me. I just can’t separate their voices from the background chatter.

I have Ménière’s disease, though, which can affect hearing in a number of ways. Mine is a nerve issue that leaves my right ear functionally 80% deaf, so hearing aids don’t help. It just made everything I couldn’t hear louder. The one I used longest was a BTE model. Kind of disappointing, but at the same time, I had learned to live with it by then anyway. I had just never thought to try one before.

Mine were black with white filigree. Très Baroque. And I second that they’re not noticeable - sometimes I would forget to take it out until I laid down at night and noticed the change in hearing. They’re just so light, and you don’t even notice them in the mirror when you know you have em.
Also, since it sounds like most of your issues are mechanical as opposed to neural, you may ask an audiologist about a mastoid hearing aid. They can do some tests with tuning forks to see how big of a difference it will really make for you. If you do get a BTE model, get one that has an on-board chip the audiologist can access - they take readings about how your ear canal is reacting to noise, how the aid itself is working, and make dynamic adjustments without spending a lot of time fiddling with things. It speeds up the adjustment process considerably, giving you a better idea of what they’ll do for you during the free trial.

Well, that depends on the model. BTE models usually have the microphone and amplifier towards the back of the main body, so you may have to hold the hearing piece behind your ear instead of in it, but otherwise it wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

I’m 25, and had my hearing aid in my earlier 20s. Felt the initial effects of Ménière’s when I was about 15-16. The audiologist tried to get me to choose a flesh-tone hearing aid so I would be less likely to tear it out and avoid embarrassment, etc, but I didn’t care, I picked the cool ones. :wink:

And I am 32, and have worn hearing aids for most of my life. There are a ton of young adults who have worn hearing aids or are late deafened (lost their hearing as teens or young adults) HOH (hard of hearing) people are all ages. Not all of us are grey haired 70 year old grannies who belong to the Local HowThe Ear Hears Club. Heck come over to http://www.naturallydeaf.com/
We have a small population of late deafened posters…but its a good messageboard.

Thanks everyone.

Most of my issues are actually sensorineural, I just have acute conductive hearing loss going on in my left ear (on top of the sensorineural issues) at the moment, highlighting just how crappy my hearing in my right ear is.

I am now 43, and I have to deal with this, its just really hard making the initial step. I am going to see people about it today. I need to get back to work, but I can’t work if I can’t hear. Safety issue for my patients and co workers at night, for one thing.

I will check out the links.

ARRRRGH
I can’t get in to see anyone until August 2nd. I can’t go back to work until I can hear or am medically cleared to return to work. The ENT I saw last week won’t make any pronouncement about my fitness to work, all he said is “Get a hearing aid, it will help”, my boss and the employee health people are passing the buck. Everyone is passing the buck.

I am ready and willing to work but a reasonable and prudent nurse will not put herself, co workers and patients in jeopardy by working when she is unsafe. problem is who will determine if I am safe…no one that’s who, besides me. So I could lie and say I can work, Im ok, but that is false, so…
arrrrgh!

Before you spend a huge amount of money on the professional fitted ones, you really need to visit a sporting goods store like Cabella’s or Bass Pro Shop and check out the hunter’s aids. They are hearing devices that do two things - boost quiet sounds and block excessively loud ones.

For instance, here’s an entry level Walker’s Game Ear. How much? $39.99!

If your hearing loss is not one that needs specific frequency boosts or cuts, and you just need more gain, these devices will do the job. If you do, they have one with a 16 band graphic equalizer with multiple listening environment programs (general, crowds, theater, nature) as well as custom settings. It’s their most expensive device at $699.

I first learned about them from a Wall Street Journal article about an audiologist named Mead Killion was was fighting to bring in cheap, standardized hearing aids from Europe, and was being fought every step of the way by the people riding the gravy train.

Deep sympathetic sigh

I don’t like talking about my experiences with hearing loss, but I’ll do my best for someone with similar struggles.

Basically I can only hear low frequency sounds and struggle with higher frequency sounds. This means that I can tell when someone is talking, but not always what they’re saying. Here is a picture of high and low frequency sounds.

Here is a picture for the sounds of speech. The “f” and “s” sounds are murder to make out and I always end up mistaking them for something else. I can never tell whether someone is saying “fifteen” or “sixteen”. And there lies the biggest problem with HFHL, it’s not only that you can’t hear sounds, but you can also mistake the sounds you do hear. Even when you heard something correctly, you still have to check to make sure you heard it correctly. It can be especially challenging if you work in a fast paced work environment where people don’t like repeating themselves.

The mental toll of not knowing whether you’re hearing correctly is overwhelming. Every time I meet someone new or make a phone call I don’t know whether I’ll be able to hear them correctly. If I can’t, I don’t know whether asking them to speak up will solve the problem. If it doesn’t, I don’t know if telling them about my hearing loss will make them speak more clearly or make them want to end our conversation. Every random social encounter ends up being one huge fucking struggle.

Hearing aids do help. If you’ve never worn HAs before, you’re in for a nice treat. I was surprised by some of the improvements the first time I put mine on.

Unfortunately, hearing aids won’t solve all your hearing problems. They don’t work well in environments with background noise, or with reverberation. They work best for sounds from two to six feet away. They won’t work on sounds coming from speakers unless you get a special sound system. And they have to be configured to work with music and speech differently. You won’t be able to hear clear music and people talking at the same time.

There are complicated ways to get around all this, but the solution is different for every environment. That’s why it’s best to have a good audiologist who will listen to you and come up with a good solution.

I was told I needed HAs five years ago, but waited another three years to get them. I know what you’re going through, but I can tell you that the pain will pass and you’ll eventually come to terms with being hearing impaired. BTW, I’m only 26, and your husband is giving you more support than I ever had. You’ll adjust just fine.

I’ve always been hearing impaired. My parents were told that hearing aids wouldn’t help. “It’s a nerve deafness, HAs won’t correct that.”

It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I was actually told, “Yeah, get them. You will have maybe 30% improvement.”

Oh. My. God.

YES they helped. Since I wasn’t looking for perfect hearing (the major reason, IMHO, most hearing aid users give up), I appreciated every little bit of help I got.

They enabled me to hear my kids when they were growing up.

Through the years, though, my hearing has worsened. Even with the slam-bang digital jobbies, I get very little help. One ear is already out of commission. I dread the day I finally put the second hearing aid in the drawer for the last time.

The PUBLIC is your biggest obstacle, IMHO. Most people think hearing aids improve hearing like glasses improve vision. Not so. Glasses can be specially made to accommodate all the little quirks in your vision. Hearing aids AMPLIFY. Imagine trying to read wearing a pair of glasses with the lenses coated with soap. Would putting a brighter light bulb in the lamp next to you help you to read better?

Probably not.

People see you struggling to understand conversation while you are wearing hearing aids, and they say something like, “Why don’t you turn up your hearing aids?”

There are a LOT of idiots walking around that deserved killing. I let them live.

They will NOT make your hearing perfect. They WILL help. (and for me, FORGET about the phone!) But you will still need to see people’s faces when they talk to you, you will still need to rely on visual cues, and you’ll still want the captioning left on the TV.

Good luck.
~VOW

Related to this - some, but not all cell phones, are “HAC” - “Hearing Aid Compliant”. I’m not sure if all hearing aids are, or just certain ones. After all, I design cell phones, not hearing aids.

Anyway…in a working setup, the hearing aid and the cell phone magnetically couple and transmit the audio over that ‘link’. It’s supposed to provide a better experience for the user.

I’ve never actually used it, other than with test systems, so I can’t speak for it’s function in the real world.
-D/a

To Digital:

I’ve tried using the telecoil. Yes, it eliminates feedback, but for my purposes, there’s not enough amplification. And the gap between the hearing aid (behind-the-ear) and the earpiece of the receiver creates some “loss” as well. I made a funky-doodle foam cushion to try to eliminate that gap (like the foam collar around the older model headphones) and it helped SOME.

But my loss has progressed to the point I need facial clues as well as the few sounds I do manage to get.

Some phones have a built-in amplifier with a volume dial. I had one that even had a “turbo boost” button, but GTE stopped making them. I think non hearing impaired folks were blowing out their eardrums with the turbo.

My husband handles the phone calls now.
~VOW

Why are “hearing aids” in quotes in the thread title?

Thanks, VOW.

Hmm. Do you believe that the telecoil is useful for other people who have less advanced hearing loss?
Are there noticeable populations that could benefit from it, if we just provided some more amplification? There are, sadly, legal issues with it…but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Modern video chat tends to be a bit choppy. Do you get enough visual cues that it helps? Or do you need something closer to TV resolution to be helpful?

Obviously, I can’t say that I can solve any of these problems. But I do have some say in the design for some future products, and if I an influence things in the right direction… well, maybe things can be better for someone out there.
-D/a

A telecoil for people using an ITC (In-The-Canal, the “invisible” one) probably works fine. I had an ITE (In-The-Ear) telecoil, and I’d get a halfway decent seal with the receiver against my ear. But by then, the resolution of my hearing was on a fast downhill slide.

I haven’t tried Skype, and I don’t know if I will. I have a very low tolerance for frustration as I age.

I hope technology makes tremendous advances in the future for hearing-impaired folks.

For me, the biggest advance was the general acceptance of text messaging. I now have a cell phone!
~VOW