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Julie, Volunteer Mentor (@julieo4)

The Emotional Side of Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss | Last Active: Jun 26 4:16pm | Replies (45)

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@julieo4

@pokni Poor word recognition is very common among people with sensorineural hearing loss. Perhaps you were originally diagnosed with conductive hearing loss, which is a condition that affects the middle ear. It can be helped considerably with pure amplification, so it's an easy hearing aid fit.

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), which affects the inner ear/cochlea is a different story. It's also the most common type of hearing loss. It distorts speech as it eliminates certain sounds the cochlea cannot send to the brain for identification. Consequently, the brain is only getting part of the sounds that identify words. That affects word recognition.

Interestingly, there are predictable confusions. They are in the consonants in our language. We can hear the vowels easily because they require power in speech. A,E,I,O,U have power. The consonants, alone and combined, are softer sounds that are easy to mishear. S, V, TH, F, B, CH, L, R are examples.

Take a 4 syllable word and erase the consonants from it. Would you know what you heard if you only heard those vowels? Probably not. Now, use the same word and erase the vowels. The consonants are still there and you have a much better chance at understanding the word since consonants are the 'identifiers' in our language. Here's a word: i_ _o_ _i_ _ e It's 4 syllables with only vowels. Do you know what it is?

Here it is with no vowels; only consonants:
_mp_ss_bl_ Of course 'context' in the conversation is always a clue, but conversation goes so fast, we have trouble keeping up.

Back to the 'word recognition' issue. I've been using hearing aids for over 40 years. They are much better than they were back in the day. Of course, my hearing loss has gotten worse, so my word recognition scores deteriorated. Enter hearing aids used with add on assistive technology like a hearing loop, an FM system, mini microphone, etc. and my word recognition approved considerably.

It continued to deteriorate over the years until I was testing in the 20% correct range. It was time for me to get a cochlear implant. I did, and my word recognition now tests over 93%. It's less in noise, but is well over 60%, which is typical even for people who have good hearing. Background noise affects everyone, but people like us even more.

I encourage you to not give up. Your provider seems to be shutting you down. Has your provider ever discussed add on technology that will work with your hearing aids? Do you know what a PocketTalker is? Bluetooth accessories, hearing loop?

Ask about cochlear implants. Have they been mentioned?

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Replies to "@pokni Poor word recognition is very common among people with sensorineural hearing loss. Perhaps you were..."

@julieo4

A great explanation! I especially like that you said consonants are the identifiers in our language….never heard it expressed that way and an easy way to explain to someone.
I had a page taken out of a book once that had the consonants blanked out. It was mainly to show hearing people what it is we actually hear and it was a shocker to them. They couldn’t read it. I lost it over the years but I plan (on my list) to replicate it and , when I do, I will attach a photo of it.
FL Mary

Very interesting. I get my hearing aids from Costco. They seem knowledgeable but what do I know? They have pretty sophisticated ways to check your hearing. I think my hearing aids I have now are my 4th pair. My 3rd pair is when they said I had word recognition problems. My hearing aids are rechargeable, the brand is Jabra (I think advanced Pro). They have Blue Tooth and are synced to my iPhone.
I'm inclined to do research and then more research. It looks like the Pocket Talker would be warn in conjunction with hearing aids (I think). That seems like a bit much to wear (especially having to wear a mask for Covid). In some scenarios (like living in a senior center as I do) they require it for the most part.
Thank you so much for this information, it gives me a starting place to research possibilities to enhance my hearing. Much appreciated. 🧡

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