Loss of hearing clarity: Solutions or strategies anyone?

Posted by JK, Alumna Mentor @contentandwell, Feb 24, 2019

I have in the last couple of years lost hearing clarity. Apparently, somewhere between my auditory nerves and my brain, there is something like a disconnect. The decibels at which I hear has not changed. This clarity loss can be age-related, and I have read that it can also possibly be related to having had cirrhosis, or to taking immunosuppressants – that all seems pretty unclear though. I have been wearing hearing aids since around 2004.

Has anyone else had this type of problem and if so how do you compensate for it? I get emails from CHC — Center for Hearing and Communications which is NYC and Florida and a book was mentioned recently that can be purchased on Amazon, “Smart Hearing: Strategies, Skills, and Resources for Living Better with Hearing Loss” by Katherine Bouton. I am thinking about purchasing it but wondered if any others have this problem too. I have Oticon Opn1 hearing aids and purchased the “Connect Clip” which helps in some situations.
Thanks for any responses.
JK

I have similar problems however it's not Uniformly Consistent. Also have not spent time measuring circumstances however now I will.

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@stephenmcelroy

Clarity solutions for me has been a problem of communicating effectively with the audiologist as to what I am not understanding. The hearing test allows them to set the decibels according to the frequencies their test tells them needs enhancement (increased decibels). HOWEVER it has been my experience that those tests do not always indicate what you are hearing in real life (as opposed to the tones in the hearing booth) Adjusting their settings according to what you tell them is educated guessing on their part. I have required multiple "fitting"(as in a dozen more or less) for them to adjust the decibels of different frequencies to a point where it works for me. Using hearing aids that have multiple programs helps a lot. I have them leave the original program. Add an adjusted program. Compare the 2 then return to let them know what I experience. Again add a 3rd program leaving the first 2 and again comparing. Repeat until all programs are used. Checking each program in different environments. Car. TV. Restaurants. One on one conversations. Meetings. Deciding which work best (finding some work better than others in different environments.) Then eliminate any that are not that good. If need be, replace those with any additional adjustments.

Recently, I found sites on line for student audiologists to practice on. They have tones at the different test frequencies used by audiologists.
Wearing my hearing aids, I set the computer volume at what seems to be a normal and comfortable level for the 2000 frequency (test middle value) then I compare either side (1000 and 3000) to the volume level of the 2000 and record whether it seems louder of softer of about the same. Then compare the 1000 to the 500 and record the same result louder or softer and then the 500 compare to the 250.

Then I go in the other direction comparing and recording the result 3000 to 4000 to 6000 to 8000.
Now the hard part. I have the audiologist create a program that balances the volumes according to adjusting up or down volumes based on the adjustment variation from what ever THEIR original 1500 setting is. I can then compare that program to others.
I find applying this to the original, while also being prepared to give a verbal account of what I am hearing to the audiologist, for them to create a modified original the way they usually do, (leaving the original as is) that gives me 3 programs to compare.

I find my method gives a pretty good balanced volume where one frequency of sound does not drown out other frequencies. Also any frequency that is not effectively being heard by MY ears will be increased which I find makes all the difference in the world for clarity. Many audiologists use a technology that they charge an arm and a leg for (usually built into the higher pricing of their hearing aids) called real-ear measurement, which tells them what sound is actually getting to your ear to see if it corresponds to your audiogram… different things can cause a variance. My method allows me, I believe, to be able to tell more precisely what I am ACTUALLY hearing… and be able to effectively communicate that to the audiologist. I find some reluctance from audiologists to do as I request, possible they think I am telling them how to do their job and might be offended BUT I tell them I am just attempting to give them all the information I can so they can give me the best possible hearing experience from my hearing aids.

I realize this is probably too much information but use it or not as you desire.
Hearing aid users note that you can have your audiologist do a new test on you and adjust your aids if your hearing has changed. (and then get adjustments to the new settings as needed) When you are looking for a new hearing aid, find out how many years you can get adjustments from them at what charge? Some are free for 3 years. Some may limit to 3 free adjustments then $25 or much more per adjustment.

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Thanks for outlining your procedure which sounds pretty thorough to me. Regarding Real Ear Measurement–how would that be expensive? That is a "best practice" and if an audiologist does not use it, I would find another clinic. There is such an excellent video on this that explains that is the ONLY way to match your Hearing prescription (audiogram) to the your own hearing aid…otherwise you are using a manufacturer's default!! Not good! The 10 Minute video is called: The Most Important HEARING AID Video You Will EVER Watch! What are Real Ear Measures? by Dr. Cliff Olson…google it!

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@contentandwell

@reallyrosie Thanks, Rosy. I went to the "app store" and put in "play store translator" but it only came up with was a foreign language translator. I know some people use their iPhone on "live" so things go directly to their hearing aids but I have not found that helps much, the background noises overpower the person speaking.
Which Oticon do you have? I thought the Opn was the most powerful, is it not? Hearing aids are so darned expensive, and then they come up with improvements but you can't just keep buying new ones, too costly. My hearing loss started in adulthood. My daughter has always had a hearing loss and she recently got ReSounds and says they are the best she has ever had. She has had Oticons and Phonaks in the past.
JK

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To compare hearing aids there is a "Consumer's Guide to Hearing Aids (2018)" which is distributed to hearing aid vendors. It compares the hearing aids with about 25 categories. It is available for sale through HLAA. I would give you the link but I can't, as this site rejects my URL's.

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@carolynodio

To compare hearing aids there is a "Consumer's Guide to Hearing Aids (2018)" which is distributed to hearing aid vendors. It compares the hearing aids with about 25 categories. It is available for sale through HLAA. I would give you the link but I can't, as this site rejects my URL's.

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@carolynodio – Thank you Carolyn!

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Another barrier to hearing is fans: ceiling fans, window fans, air conditioner fans — fans of all kinds. For some reason fans are the enemy of my hearing aids. In warm weather people seem to keep fans turned on out of habit. When the fans are turned off I can hear much better. I’d much prefer a stuffy room where I can hear to a ventilated room where I cannot. Of course I’m mostly in the minority.

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@contentandwell Is your difficulty with clarity primarily happening in crowded spaces (like coffee shops and restaurants) or everywhere (including quiet places like home)? If primarily in crowded spaces, then you might want to discuss the possibility of spatial hearing loss with your audiologist. There are tests that can be performed to diagnose it. JK McElveen

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@jkmcelveen

@contentandwell Is your difficulty with clarity primarily happening in crowded spaces (like coffee shops and restaurants) or everywhere (including quiet places like home)? If primarily in crowded spaces, then you might want to discuss the possibility of spatial hearing loss with your audiologist. There are tests that can be performed to diagnose it. JK McElveen

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@jkmcelveen When I had my hearing tested the level at which I could hear sounds had not changed much. My recognition of words had degraded quite a bit.
Crowded places are virtually impossible, even just a few people together in our home makes it impossible to hear, it's all garbled. With my current hearing aids, Oticon Opn1s, the clarity is improved. I can now hear what the sermon is in church if it is said loud enough and not mumbled. I could not that before I had these hearing aids.
I believe I have had all of the tests but I have an appointment coming up so I will mention that to her. Thanks for the suggestion.
JK

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@bobbiefriend

Another barrier to hearing is fans: ceiling fans, window fans, air conditioner fans — fans of all kinds. For some reason fans are the enemy of my hearing aids. In warm weather people seem to keep fans turned on out of habit. When the fans are turned off I can hear much better. I’d much prefer a stuffy room where I can hear to a ventilated room where I cannot. Of course I’m mostly in the minority.

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When I first got my hearing aids they picked up the sound of the fan in my car to a very annoying level. It took numerous trips back to where I had purchased them, but did get improvement. Unfortunately, with that improved, the clarity in hearing conversation and television dialog was diminished.

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@cherriann

When I first got my hearing aids they picked up the sound of the fan in my car to a very annoying level. It took numerous trips back to where I had purchased them, but did get improvement. Unfortunately, with that improved, the clarity in hearing conversation and television dialog was diminished.

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Thanks for all the good feedback! This has really helped me sort through my issues and not think that I was the only one dealt the problems. Just read Smart Hearing from Katherine Bouton and thought it was a very worthwhile resource. This week I am going back to my audiologist and she is going to let me try out the Phonak Roger Select to use in a meeting environment….will let you know how that works. I am retired but still stay active with a couple of organizations which means I attend meetings which are very hard for me. I also teach a technical class Monday nights but have just instructed the students about my hearing issue and I think they understand and try to help me. I don't want to go sit in a corner like I see some hard of hearing people! One thing I did accomplish was to have a hearing loop installed in our church over Christmas and this has been received very positively! But HA users need to know how to utilize it otherwise it won't be of any benefit to them…..enough for now but thanks for all the suggestions!

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@scottk

Thanks for all the good feedback! This has really helped me sort through my issues and not think that I was the only one dealt the problems. Just read Smart Hearing from Katherine Bouton and thought it was a very worthwhile resource. This week I am going back to my audiologist and she is going to let me try out the Phonak Roger Select to use in a meeting environment….will let you know how that works. I am retired but still stay active with a couple of organizations which means I attend meetings which are very hard for me. I also teach a technical class Monday nights but have just instructed the students about my hearing issue and I think they understand and try to help me. I don't want to go sit in a corner like I see some hard of hearing people! One thing I did accomplish was to have a hearing loop installed in our church over Christmas and this has been received very positively! But HA users need to know how to utilize it otherwise it won't be of any benefit to them…..enough for now but thanks for all the suggestions!

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@scottk I would like to get my church looped as well. Would you mind telling me how much it cost?

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@mikepa

@scottk I would like to get my church looped as well. Would you mind telling me how much it cost?

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Mike: Our install was about $10,500.00 It will depend on the construction of the church. Our loop was installed underneath our floor which had concrete construction but we were then able to loop both the main church and the basement by doing it this way. Some concrete construction has rebar/steel rods which then will not make this possible. Otherwise it can be laid on the floor of the church but typically not above since you will not have a good signal that way. Make sure that the installer is knowledgeable! You can check with HLAA to see if they have anyone in your area that they would recommend. I was right with the installers when they were testing to make sure that my HA's worked well with it. It really has been a good addition! Hope this helps.

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@scottk

Thanks for all the good feedback! This has really helped me sort through my issues and not think that I was the only one dealt the problems. Just read Smart Hearing from Katherine Bouton and thought it was a very worthwhile resource. This week I am going back to my audiologist and she is going to let me try out the Phonak Roger Select to use in a meeting environment….will let you know how that works. I am retired but still stay active with a couple of organizations which means I attend meetings which are very hard for me. I also teach a technical class Monday nights but have just instructed the students about my hearing issue and I think they understand and try to help me. I don't want to go sit in a corner like I see some hard of hearing people! One thing I did accomplish was to have a hearing loop installed in our church over Christmas and this has been received very positively! But HA users need to know how to utilize it otherwise it won't be of any benefit to them…..enough for now but thanks for all the suggestions!

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Congratulations on getting the hearing loop installed in your church! That's a great step forward, but it does take some educating to teach people how to use it…and let them know that it's there to use! The signage doesn't do much if you don't know what it means. The more people who benefit from it, but more vocal they will be about wanting it in other places. Hearing loss doesn't need to put us out to pasture. With technology that goes beyond hearing aids, most of us can do most anything. Sure, we have to accept the reality that some places are difficult, but becoming hermits isn't good either. That hearing assistive technology is worth learning about and trying. It's so important for us to let the audiologists and ENT MDs know this is important to us. WE WANT TO HEAR!

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