How does hearing loss change you?

Posted by joangela @joangela, Sat, May 11 7:59am

For me, hearing loss has always been a part of my life. Those darn hearing tests in elementary school always put me in the category of hearing loss. Now, that I am much older, in my late 50s my hearing loss is profound. It is so bad, even my hearing family, has a real hard time adjusting to it.
How it has really changed me?
I was a small business owner, and a top notch sales person. I was a huge people person and an excellent communicator. It’s all gone.
A major change in my life.
How about you?

@christinelouise

It makes me glad that my Dad, who can't hear very well, will let me know when he can't hear me. He feels comfortable doing this at home around family. Then my brother or Mom will repeat what I say because he can understand them better. I often use hand motions to help him understand. For some reason, some voices he can hear better than others.
Christine

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Men voices as a rule are easier for me.

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I have the connect clip, but mainly use it as a discreet volume control. I like symphonies, and when going to a concert I can adjust the volume so that it's not too loud and damaging to my ears. Plus when the applause starts, I can turn them way down in a hurry.

I'm also a career musician. I keep the stage volume at 90dba or less. I know 85 is max safe, so I can turn the ears down a couple of 'clicks' and at the end of the song turn it back up to hear an audience member speak without calling attention to my hearing aids.

I suppose I could give the clip to someone, and thought about this for noisy situations like restaurants where I want to hear my DW. But we learned where to sit, in new places ask for a quiet corner and sit side by side. She knows how to talk to be understood.

I tried it for the cell phone, but hearing conversations in both ears was disturbing to me. I figure I could get used to it if I had to though. At home I have a Clarity amplified/equalized phone and if using the cell, it's easier as a speakerphone for me.

I got the rechargeable batteries and charger, but to tell the truth, I'm disappointed. The batteries don't last 16 hours and will die in the evening. If I take them out for a half hour mid-day and put them in the charger, they will make it, but that isn't always possible, so I take disposables with me.

Bob

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@marijaneb

The ear phones have made listening to TV an absolute joy. I use the big soft pads that surround the ears. Plugs into TV, with charge stand by the T.V. As to music, I do not enjoy playing on my keyboard, nor listening to some music as much anymore… music in restaurants is annoying. A talker, I now talk less, go to restaurants where just one group at my table as my preference. I'll settle for hearing aids, for the terrible high price they cost to actually improve the quality of my hearing. My keyboard, if not wearing head phones, sounds super tinny. As to any cure, I'd forget that. But seems tech could vastly improve hearing reception by now.

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In the last 5 to 10 years, technology has expanded to areas unbelievable when compared to what we had just 20 years ago. I am in my upper 60's and had NO knowledge of technology for my hearing loss. I was in every sense of the word – deaf. Technology has gone through exceptional strides to work on developing a computer that can live inside as well as outside your ear. It use to be worn around your chest or around your belt area. They were amplifiers – somewhat like they were around the early 1990's and year 2000 when I receive my first set of hearing aids. No digital hearing aids…yet. They would come soon with young minds inventing the mobile phones and newer and smaller computers/laptops etc. You see, with the technology age came the idea of making everything smaller and stronger – doing everything with a microchip. Gathering sounds – noises you hear is a very techie thing in the world that we live. Our speech can be measured by what you see on your audiogram – if you want to use a simple diagram. It can get more detailed if you look at music though. All of the instruments and sounds of music are at a much larger range then the human voice. Even animals, birds and other sounds around us – all have different tones and vibrations in the air that need to be measured to be caught in the ear or by the hearing aid. This is definitely a science that is still in it's infancy. Down the road, and they are working on the music portion now, you will be able to hear music with the hearing aids of the future. But right now, we need to be patient. What we once were able to hear with our original ears, before our hearing loss, they will work hard to mimic it with aids as best as they can in the future.

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@nurseheadakes

In the last 5 to 10 years, technology has expanded to areas unbelievable when compared to what we had just 20 years ago. I am in my upper 60's and had NO knowledge of technology for my hearing loss. I was in every sense of the word – deaf. Technology has gone through exceptional strides to work on developing a computer that can live inside as well as outside your ear. It use to be worn around your chest or around your belt area. They were amplifiers – somewhat like they were around the early 1990's and year 2000 when I receive my first set of hearing aids. No digital hearing aids…yet. They would come soon with young minds inventing the mobile phones and newer and smaller computers/laptops etc. You see, with the technology age came the idea of making everything smaller and stronger – doing everything with a microchip. Gathering sounds – noises you hear is a very techie thing in the world that we live. Our speech can be measured by what you see on your audiogram – if you want to use a simple diagram. It can get more detailed if you look at music though. All of the instruments and sounds of music are at a much larger range then the human voice. Even animals, birds and other sounds around us – all have different tones and vibrations in the air that need to be measured to be caught in the ear or by the hearing aid. This is definitely a science that is still in it's infancy. Down the road, and they are working on the music portion now, you will be able to hear music with the hearing aids of the future. But right now, we need to be patient. What we once were able to hear with our original ears, before our hearing loss, they will work hard to mimic it with aids as best as they can in the future.

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I agree, all this technology is wonderful. And the new aids I have are much better than the old ones.

They may eat batteries for lunch, but the highs are better. I suppose they are sampling the input sound at a higher bit rate which uses more power and thus the shortened battery life. Because I hate disposable products due to their impact on the environment, I went for the rechargeable option, but I need to recharge a half hour mid-day for them to make it until I go to bed.

However, the thing I'm anticipating most, and it might be a dream; it's medical science figuring out how to re-grow the cilia 'hair cells' or whatever else is needed to cure the problem instead of treating it.

The aids are like a crutch to a person with one broken leg. They might get your from point A to point B, but not like they did before the problem.

Even with the aids I need captioning, and I avoid big groups in noisy places as the chatter tends to be a blur. I'm sure that's not uncommon in this group.

Whenever I read anything about a cure, it's always 5-10 years in the future. Of course it was 5=10 years in the future 10 years ago. It's obviously not an easy problem to solve, but I'm glad they are still working on it.

I guy can dream, can't he?

Bob

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I rely on my wife to be my "'Hearing Ear Puppy" in many situations. She knows I have problems with speech, especially with someone soft-spoken or with a thick accent, so she finds a way to repeat what is necessary.

As a musician I've always used custom fit, high fidelity, musician's ear plugs to keep the volume hitting my ears at 85db or less. A misdiagnosed (three times) allergic reaction to dust mites eventually took about 70db out of the high end before they figured out what was causing it.

Wearing ear plugs on stage now makes it impossible to hear comments from the audience. Add another 15db of attenuation and it's useless.

I keep the stage levels under 90dba and turn my aids down. Since the dome inside my ear is solid except for 2 small vents, it acts as an ear plug, and with all the experience I have, I can estimate 85dba very well. So other than age factors, I'm not damaging my ears more than the dust mites did.

Between songs, I have the connect clip and if need be, I can discretely turn the volume back to normal and have a better chance at understanding what is said. My DW is my duo partner, and she fields a lot of that for me.

But for the past 20 years, I have my duo partner go out in the audience area with a sound level meter when we do the sound check. We do this before they arrive. We try to pin the sound to peak about 80dba so that we don't damage the ears of our audience members. Since our market is senior citizens they usually appreciate that. And if they ask us to turn it up we will — the customer is always right — but then if they damage their ears it's their choice, not ours.

So the loss complicates my profession and compromises my life, but at least I'm still alive, and can still play music because I hear pitches Ok. There are a lot of people with worse disabilities so in the end I'm not doing too bad.

Bob

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@bobbyboomer

I rely on my wife to be my "'Hearing Ear Puppy" in many situations. She knows I have problems with speech, especially with someone soft-spoken or with a thick accent, so she finds a way to repeat what is necessary.

As a musician I've always used custom fit, high fidelity, musician's ear plugs to keep the volume hitting my ears at 85db or less. A misdiagnosed (three times) allergic reaction to dust mites eventually took about 70db out of the high end before they figured out what was causing it.

Wearing ear plugs on stage now makes it impossible to hear comments from the audience. Add another 15db of attenuation and it's useless.

I keep the stage levels under 90dba and turn my aids down. Since the dome inside my ear is solid except for 2 small vents, it acts as an ear plug, and with all the experience I have, I can estimate 85dba very well. So other than age factors, I'm not damaging my ears more than the dust mites did.

Between songs, I have the connect clip and if need be, I can discretely turn the volume back to normal and have a better chance at understanding what is said. My DW is my duo partner, and she fields a lot of that for me.

But for the past 20 years, I have my duo partner go out in the audience area with a sound level meter when we do the sound check. We do this before they arrive. We try to pin the sound to peak about 80dba so that we don't damage the ears of our audience members. Since our market is senior citizens they usually appreciate that. And if they ask us to turn it up we will — the customer is always right — but then if they damage their ears it's their choice, not ours.

So the loss complicates my profession and compromises my life, but at least I'm still alive, and can still play music because I hear pitches Ok. There are a lot of people with worse disabilities so in the end I'm not doing too bad.

Bob

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Bob: The dust mite connection is a new one for me! Was it an allergic reaction or medicine you took to prevent it? Would appreciate some feedback on this! Thanks for sharing.
Scott

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I woke up one Saturday morning and everything was distorted, like a radio with a blown speaker. I also had tinnitus, a high 'cricket' sound and a definite high pitched tone.

I went to an ENT associated with a local hospital, who was bored and just told me that since I'm a musician, it must be noise related. I told him I have been wearing custom fitted, high fidelity ear plugs, keep a sound meter on stage, and make sure nothing over 85dba ever reaches my ear. He gave me a prescription for a week of Prednisone..

Monday I went to my ENT about 40 miles away, the one who fitted me for the ear plugs and when the Prednisone was over I got back about 90% of my hearing and permanent tinnitus. Not nearly as bad as the two-tone shrieking, but permanent crickets variable in intensity.

Back then, not many ENTs would fit people for these ear plugs, and this ENT was both world famous and closest.

A few moths later it happened again, and this time it took two packs of Prednisone. I got back about 70-80% of what was left of my hearing.

A few months later it returned. This time I was on ever increasing doses of stronger steroids for a quarter of a year. I was left with a 70db dip in the high frequencies. My world famous ENT said there are many causes of SSHL (Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss) and he started talking about putting a hole in my eardrum so he could inject steroids directly into my cochlea. It was then I decided to get a second opinion.

I kept copies of all my audiograms and I took them to a local, young ENT. He said that back in the 1960s, two doctors (and he named them) said allergies could cause SSHL and this looked like the pictures of the audiograms in the text books. So said there were dozens of allergies that could cause this so he gave me a RAST test (radioallergosorbent) and found I was allergic to dust mites.

He explained that the dust mites are everywhere humans are, and both their shed exoskeletons and solid waste can build up in ears, eustachian tubes and sinus cavities. My immune system saw the dust mite protein as a foreign invader and launched an attack. Each time the attack was quelled with steroids so it amassed a stronger attack. The inflammation responses from the attacks swelled the tissues in my head, compressing the tiniest capillaries in my body (the ones that feed the inner ear) and cut of the blood supply. By the time the steroids reduced the swelling, the damage was done.

So we stripped the house of carpets and drapes, but barriers on the bedding and dust-proofed it. Now when I get the first symptoms of an allergy attack, I down some Chinese herbs (Pe Min Kan Wan) and if that doesn't do it I follow it with an adult dose of Dimetapp.I use Xlear nasal spray or a neti pot daily to wash the sinus cavities.

The good news is that I haven't had SSHL since I was properly diagnosed and by taking quick action in the face of an allergic symptom (itchy eyes usually come first), I learned to ignore the tinnitus and I found that 3,000 mg of the amino acid Taurine minimizes it.

The bad news is that the damage won't reverse itself until humans figure out a way to regrow the damaged cells.

I can blame my mother for this. She kept a spotless house and dusted every day. Of course she was doing what was considered the right thing to do back then, it was an act of love, so I can't be angry with her. I didn't tell her it was dust mites, just an allergy.

So that's it.

Bob

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@tmclain

The change for me has been in my ability to understand what people say is social and work situations. When I ask friends, family members or colleagues to repeat what they said with a little more volume and enunciation, I get looks like I am stupid or that I am less intelligent than the speaker who can't speak up and enunciate. That is usually not true because I have a very high IQ (not bragging). I have found that more intelligent people tend to understand my infirmary and empathize with my hearing loss. And it's not like I haven't tried to accommodate those around me. I wear some of the most expensive hearing aids out there – Oticon Opn's. Unfortunately, hearing aids are mostly developed by people who have no hearing loss and the hearing aids don't live up to the hype.

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@tmclain I could have written your post. One of my closest friends used to be a teacher of deaf students and she had a deaf aunt so she is very good about my loss and she can tell, just by looking at me, if I have really heard her. My son is very good about my loss, he is always trying to make sure that I am included in the conversation. He's a real people person so he wants me to be involved.
Have you tried the Connect Clip for your Opns? I have one and use it in certain situations. It can help in some but not all. It really does not help much in a noisy restaurant but it does in other situations.

@marijaneb I have the same problem with my husband. For some reason he seems to be the person who just does not understand as much that I cannot hear him when in a different room, or when his head is in the refrigerator!

@bookysue The lower frequencies of men's voices are definitely easier for me also. I once got halfway to a job interview and panicked when I realized I didn't have my hearing aids in! To go back home would have made me very late for my appointment so I went. The interviewer had a very low voice so I was able to hear him perfectly. At least I think I heard him — I didn't get the job. 😉
JK

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Allergies is a bummer – I have many of them as well. It's hard to keep everything separated one from the other especially when they all are found in the brain area!. That is why it's best to know they self well and to discover what might be the source of your difficulties.
The discovery of how to grow back your hair cells will take long because it is not a top priority in comparison to all of the many other health issues on the docket. Look at the headlines of today and you can see cancer, heart disease, GI and other noteworthy diseases. They all receive millions of dollars nationally and internationally to find a cure. But seeking funds for hearing loss or to garner research dollars for hearing cell regeneration draws only a very small fraction of a percentage of the monetary funds that are out there. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/
Everything is in its infancy right now since so little is known about how our hearing works. Clinical trials on humans have only just begun and they will be taking place for years. Theories need to be identified, worked out and tried in order to see what works and doesn't work. Hearing loss has been taking place for decades/centuries and if we think this will work over night, we have another thing coming.
Looking back at what we had and what we have today….https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/47717-Digital-hearing-aid-history shows how great a leap we have taken and how much we all be in appreciating what we have. I am so happy to have my $6000 computers that I guard them with my life. My father could have had hearing aids to prevent him from getting dementia but he decided against it. So many others do the same.
This is the time of discovery we live in. We are the people who are helping to bridge the new age of hearing. While we may not benefit from it all, we can help to augment and channel the direction it takes by helping those who need it most. Our world is noisy and polluted bringing with it hearing loss and allergies and all kinds of other things with it. So this won't go away. Join the class of hearing aid wearers and lets show how its done.

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@bobbyboomer

I have the connect clip, but mainly use it as a discreet volume control. I like symphonies, and when going to a concert I can adjust the volume so that it's not too loud and damaging to my ears. Plus when the applause starts, I can turn them way down in a hurry.

I'm also a career musician. I keep the stage volume at 90dba or less. I know 85 is max safe, so I can turn the ears down a couple of 'clicks' and at the end of the song turn it back up to hear an audience member speak without calling attention to my hearing aids.

I suppose I could give the clip to someone, and thought about this for noisy situations like restaurants where I want to hear my DW. But we learned where to sit, in new places ask for a quiet corner and sit side by side. She knows how to talk to be understood.

I tried it for the cell phone, but hearing conversations in both ears was disturbing to me. I figure I could get used to it if I had to though. At home I have a Clarity amplified/equalized phone and if using the cell, it's easier as a speakerphone for me.

I got the rechargeable batteries and charger, but to tell the truth, I'm disappointed. The batteries don't last 16 hours and will die in the evening. If I take them out for a half hour mid-day and put them in the charger, they will make it, but that isn't always possible, so I take disposables with me.

Bob

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@bobbyboomer I have heard many people are disappointed with the life of the rechargeable batteries. I like being able to put in new batteries so I am never without.

My cell phone (iPhone 7) is great, I stream right into my hearing aids. My son suggested I change the setting on cellular to WiFi calling and that helped even more. That is with Verizon, I don't know if that's available on other carriers.
JK

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@contentandwell

@bobbyboomer I have heard many people are disappointed with the life of the rechargeable batteries. I like being able to put in new batteries so I am never without.

My cell phone (iPhone 7) is great, I stream right into my hearing aids. My son suggested I change the setting on cellular to WiFi calling and that helped even more. That is with Verizon, I don't know if that's available on other carriers.
JK

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Yes, I'm disappointed that the rechargeable batteries won't last 16 hours. If they could engineer a few more hours per charge, it would be great.

Still, it's better than 4 days on a disposable cell. The plastic and the cell itself are trash items, and I'm not sure if that little piece of cardboard I put in the recycle bin ever gets processed.

and nurseheadakes I am happy with the hearing aid technology, but I still have trouble conversing with people. With all the armed forces people coming back with hearing problems due to exposure to the sounds of explosives, you would think more money would be spent on research for a cure. If someone developed a way to repair damaged hearing, there would be a big market and plenty of profits. Of course, the Hearing Aid manufacturers wouldn't like that.

OK I'm being impatient and I know it because I have hearing loss and not heart disease or anything else that I know of.

I'll continue doing the best I can and hoping someone will come up with a better way to get me to be less isolated from other people.

Bob

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