Hearing Loss: Come introduce yourself and connect with others

Posted by Colleen Young @colleenyoung, Feb 5, 2019

Welcome to the Hearing Loss group on Mayo Clinic Connect.
This is a welcoming, safe place where you can meet people living with hearing loss, and friends and family supporters. Whether you were born deaf or hard of hearing, experienced hearing loss after birth or with aging, it helps to connect with others. Together we can learn from each other, support one another and share stories about living with hearing loss, coping with challenges and celebrating milestones.

Let’s chat. Why not start by introducing yourself? What is your hearing loss experience? Got a question, tip or story to share?

@goog

My hearing loss started possibly at least ~10+ years ago. I didn't figure out what was possibly wrong and got a hearing test about ~6+ years ago. I have sensorineural hearing loss. I'm guessing it's at least moderate, because I have BTE Oticons. At that time, they prescribed a hearing aid for my left ear only. I had hearing loss in the left ear at the time, but there was something about it that they said I couldn't use a hearing aid yet. ~2+ years later, I also got a hearing aid for the left ear.

Now that the hearing aids are over 5 years old, and some of the technology has improved. I have started the process of looking for new hearing aids. The problems I have had have had have really worn on me, so I want the best possible hearing aids along with all the best features.

I have a huge problem hearing in noisy places, like restaurants. And, understanding anyone with an accent different than mine is extremely difficult. I also quite often told that I am talking too loud, and I don't realize I'm doing it. (I have the custom ear molds, and I wonder if that's why I'm talking so loud, because their sealing the noise in. Just before COVID-19 shut down all the hearing aid centers here, I went and explore Costco's moderately price hearing aid that is top rated by Consumer Reports. The specialist there said that most people do not need custom ear molds. They are over prescribed. He would sell me one if I insisted, but he wouldn't recommend it. [And, don't knock Costco, this guy was very experienced and knew what he was talking about.] After a free, full hearing aid test, I did a several minute trial of the hearing aids there. He said that if they don't soon better than the ones I had, then I should not buy them. They did not, so I did not.

The brands I'm considering are Oticon, Signia, Phonak, Widex and Resound. [Other than the typical hearing aid problems, I have liked the Oticons. I also have a friend that just got the new Oticons, she loves them and everything she describes about them suggests that I would like them too.]

I would like to find a place that would let me take at least a few minute test of the brands they stock, before buying one for the trial period. That is what Mass Eye & Ear did for me when I got my first hearing aids. One brand was Oticon and the other was either Phonak or Widex. I had a clear preference to the Oticon's and did not like the tinny sound of the other one at all. Before the COVID-19 shutdown, I started calling a few places, and I got very mixed responses about whether they would be willing to do that or now. I'm, of course, leaning towards visiting the centers that would allow me to do this.

The other thing I would like to do is visit a few different hearing aid centers, as most of the centers in the area only carry a subset of the brands I'm interested in exploring. But, my insurance requires a referral by my HMO PCP to go to one of these places. I'm unsure how to handle this with my insurance. I don't know if they would do that. During my earlier discussions with them on a another subject concerning hearing aid centers, it became clear that the person speaking to me knew nothing about what she as talking about.

I would appreciate any and all feedback/opinions on my comments above. I live due north of Boston, a few miles from the New Hampshire border, so, if anyone lives in this area and has specific recommendations on where to go, that would be very welcomed too.

Thanks.

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Hi @goog Welcome to Connect.
Much of what you have written could have been written by me, but also by many others with hearing aids. HAs do not improve hearing to the same degree that eyeglasses do for your sight. I think noisy restaurants are problems for almost everyone. Often my husband will tell me I am talking too loud also. This happens primarily when we are out, I guess since I am trying to speak above the din I do that, whereas at home I am less apt to. I have molds, for a more severe loss they bring the sound through better. I have had the domes and the molds do help more than them.

I currently have Oticon Opn1 HAs. When I got these, 3 years ago, they had the newest technology for clarity which is a big part of my problem as I age. Prior to that, I had Phonaks which were the best in restaurants because their directionality worked excellently. When I put that program on I could hear the person I was turned toward better than the people at the table who were not hearing impaired!

My daughter, coincidentally, also wears HAs but her loss is basically the opposite of mine had she has it since at least age 3, probably since birth. Her current HAs are ReSound and she loves them. She has been wearing HAs since she was 4, is now in her 30s and thinks these are the best HAs she has ever had. She does not have the clarity problem that I have though.

I live in Southern NH and I believe that my audiologist is excellent. She is at NH Hearing Institute (NHHI) – https://nhhearinginstitute.com/.
At one point I did go to the Center for Hearing and Communications in NYC. My daughter worked there and knew that the audiologist there was truly one of the best — Dr. Ellen Lafargue. I had hearing tests with her and she prescribed my Phonaks. Her recommendations did very much concur with my audiologist in NH but if I really had a concern I might possibly go to her again.

NHHI prescribes Oticons and Phonaks, and I think one other, perhaps Signia. The other place in MA that seems to have a large audiology presence is Lahey Clinic. As you mention, each of these places tends to prescribe about 3 different brands of HAs so that is a limitation.
I will be interested in hearing what you decide to do. HAs are so darned expensive. As I mentioned, my current Oticons are 3 years old but there have been improvements since I got them. If not for the exorbitant price of HAs I would consider upgrading but as it is I will wait longer.
If you have any specific questions please feel free to PM (private message) me.
JK

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Good afternoon, My name is AllyE.
I am 60 years old, healthy, average weight, active and work full time as dental technician. I have been wearing hearing aids for 10 years. The first 7 years I was not as diligent, but now I use them religiously.
I feel my true issue is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. I can clear my ears but it only lasts for a few seconds, I seem to be able to hear clearly during those few seconds. I feel fullness and as though my ears are blocked, I also have Tinnitus. My ENT said (several years ago) there was a surgical procedure but the expected improvement was slim. He never told me what the Tx was, but that it was not recommended.
I am now doing my own research and feel there may be something more I can do to improve this situation. I am also looking for the best Clinic in the country to have an evaluation and diagnosis. The Mayo Clinic was one recommendation, but which clinic specializes in hearing? In resent years several procedures have been introduced, one being Eustachian Tube Tuboplasty. Has anyone on this forum had this problem and any experience with this procedure? Any info on this condition would be helpful.. Thank you

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@allye

Good afternoon, My name is AllyE.
I am 60 years old, healthy, average weight, active and work full time as dental technician. I have been wearing hearing aids for 10 years. The first 7 years I was not as diligent, but now I use them religiously.
I feel my true issue is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. I can clear my ears but it only lasts for a few seconds, I seem to be able to hear clearly during those few seconds. I feel fullness and as though my ears are blocked, I also have Tinnitus. My ENT said (several years ago) there was a surgical procedure but the expected improvement was slim. He never told me what the Tx was, but that it was not recommended.
I am now doing my own research and feel there may be something more I can do to improve this situation. I am also looking for the best Clinic in the country to have an evaluation and diagnosis. The Mayo Clinic was one recommendation, but which clinic specializes in hearing? In resent years several procedures have been introduced, one being Eustachian Tube Tuboplasty. Has anyone on this forum had this problem and any experience with this procedure? Any info on this condition would be helpful.. Thank you

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Hi @allye and welcome. All Mayo Clinic campuses (AZ FL and MN) have excellent teams of hearing specialists. The benefit is that you have access to the team approach regardless of location. Not all services are available at each location. You can inquire when you request an appointment. Here are the contact numbers: http://mayocl.in/1mtmR63

There are many members on this forum that can help with recommendations to specialists at Mayo or elsewhere. To connect with others experiencing Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, you might wish to join this discussion in the ENT group:
– Eustachian Tube Dysfunction Eustachian Tube Dysfunction: tube is plugged

Ally, how are you managing with the stay home restrictions?

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@allye

Good afternoon, My name is AllyE.
I am 60 years old, healthy, average weight, active and work full time as dental technician. I have been wearing hearing aids for 10 years. The first 7 years I was not as diligent, but now I use them religiously.
I feel my true issue is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. I can clear my ears but it only lasts for a few seconds, I seem to be able to hear clearly during those few seconds. I feel fullness and as though my ears are blocked, I also have Tinnitus. My ENT said (several years ago) there was a surgical procedure but the expected improvement was slim. He never told me what the Tx was, but that it was not recommended.
I am now doing my own research and feel there may be something more I can do to improve this situation. I am also looking for the best Clinic in the country to have an evaluation and diagnosis. The Mayo Clinic was one recommendation, but which clinic specializes in hearing? In resent years several procedures have been introduced, one being Eustachian Tube Tuboplasty. Has anyone on this forum had this problem and any experience with this procedure? Any info on this condition would be helpful.. Thank you

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@allye I am not familiar with Eustachian Tube Dysfunction but it would fall under otolaryngologist – ear, nose, and throat.
I googled and here are the ratings according to US News.
Mayo is top rated, followed by Mass Eye and Ear but the decision of where to go for treatment may be a geographic decision also.
https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings/ear-nose-and-throat
Although I consider Mass General Hospital to be "my hospital", Mass Eye and Ear is not actually part of it despite being right next door to it. I have no real experience with Mass Eye and Ear.
I hope you are able to find some answers to your problem. It would be wonderful if you could get some relief and hear better.
JK

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My name is Marylou. I am 91 and have some hearing loss (especially on the phone). I have unusual ear canals as they don't go in, but up. I have tried several hearing centers, but none will fit.. I'm thinking of getting a phone amplifier but don't know what kind. Has anyone used one and what do you recommend.

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@tardi400

My name is Marylou. I am 91 and have some hearing loss (especially on the phone). I have unusual ear canals as they don't go in, but up. I have tried several hearing centers, but none will fit.. I'm thinking of getting a phone amplifier but don't know what kind. Has anyone used one and what do you recommend.

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Hi Marylou. There are products available. Are you interested in product for a landline phone or a cell phone? Also, if its a cell phone, is it a smart phone?
Tony in Michigan

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@tardi400

My name is Marylou. I am 91 and have some hearing loss (especially on the phone). I have unusual ear canals as they don't go in, but up. I have tried several hearing centers, but none will fit.. I'm thinking of getting a phone amplifier but don't know what kind. Has anyone used one and what do you recommend.

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@tardi400 Hi, Marylou.
It must be very frustrating to not be able to converse well on the phone. Have you looked into a Caption Call phone? It's not an amplifier but it does provide captions to the call you are on. They are free for hearing impaired people, paid for by a state agency. I think that is true in all states. I used to use mine a lot but now I rely more on my cell phone.
It sounds as if you are not relying on HAs at all. If you were I would suggest Bluetooth ones that connect to an iPhone. I have Oticons and I can hear conversations very much better with my cell phone than I can with my landline.
I hope you are able to find some help for your situation. In these days of isolation, it must be even more difficult to not have the connection that a phone provides. If you do find a good solution I hope you will share it with us.
JK

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Hi Marylou,
I had heard about how good the hearing aids are from Costco. They sell well known brands at a much reduced price. I was reluctant to go to Costco because I have always gone to an audiologist. I called our city's branch of a national group of advocates for the hearing impaired and asked if Costco was a reputable place to buy aids. The Director whom I spoke with told me Costco is where he buys his. Since then I have purchased hearing aids from Costco twice. And both times I was very pleased. The audiologist there will tell you if you are a candidate for ear molds. You probably will not have to pay for this kind of assessment. You may want to take any reports that you have from the ear, nose and throat doctor who provided you with his assessment. The hearing aids I have give me the ability to hook into my TV through my iPhone. The quality I get from these devices is very good. I am hearing impaired and have been so since I was a child. Now in my old age I am profoundly hearing impaired…One other thing…Costco does free check-ups and adjustments to the hearing aids provided by them and the aids they sell are about half the price you would pay through an independent audiologist. Good luck. VM

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Thank you for your input. Hearing aids are just as expensive as printing ink for your printer. Good to know Costco's service is reliable and affordable. Thanks again.

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@jantonio

Thank you for your input. Hearing aids are just as expensive as printing ink for your printer. Good to know Costco's service is reliable and affordable. Thanks again.

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Agree on Costco. On my 3rd pair. the batteries are a fraction of what you pay in a drug store. About $8-9 for 48. Service is great at any Costco.

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@littlegin

Hi Marylou,
I had heard about how good the hearing aids are from Costco. They sell well known brands at a much reduced price. I was reluctant to go to Costco because I have always gone to an audiologist. I called our city's branch of a national group of advocates for the hearing impaired and asked if Costco was a reputable place to buy aids. The Director whom I spoke with told me Costco is where he buys his. Since then I have purchased hearing aids from Costco twice. And both times I was very pleased. The audiologist there will tell you if you are a candidate for ear molds. You probably will not have to pay for this kind of assessment. You may want to take any reports that you have from the ear, nose and throat doctor who provided you with his assessment. The hearing aids I have give me the ability to hook into my TV through my iPhone. The quality I get from these devices is very good. I am hearing impaired and have been so since I was a child. Now in my old age I am profoundly hearing impaired…One other thing…Costco does free check-ups and adjustments to the hearing aids provided by them and the aids they sell are about half the price you would pay through an independent audiologist. Good luck. VM

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I went to costco. The man tried to fit me, but they wouldn't stay in. He ended up getting angry with me!

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@tonyinmi

Hi Marylou. There are products available. Are you interested in product for a landline phone or a cell phone? Also, if its a cell phone, is it a smart phone?
Tony in Michigan

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A land line

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