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New hearing aid user w/many questions

M. G. Devour mdevour at mail.id.net
Mon Jul 14 18:51:28 EST 1997

Joy-Ann Maloney writes:
>Hi. I just got hearing aids for the first time a week and a half ago. 

Hi! You have my sympathy for your hearing loss, and my congratulations on 
doing something to help overcome it.

My dad had hearing aides since before I was born, and what happens? Yup, I 
need 'em too. I have one for my left ear. I may eventually get one for the 
right as well.

>I got Starkey CE-H9s for both ears (my audiologist calls them half shell
>in the ear models).

I have a model called the Tympanette, a hard shell device that fits entirely 
in the ear canal.

>1) My tinnitus is worse after a few (3-5) hours of using hearing aids.
>I've had intermittent tinnitus as long as I can remember, which gets
>worse with stress.

I find that my tinnitus is partially masked in that ear.

>2) General ear discomfort after a few (3-5) hours of use.

It took me fully 4 to 6 months to *really* become accustomed to it. Now I 
sometimes have to poke a finger in to see if it's there or not.

>3) Sometimes localized ear discomfort after use (like one spot hurts).

My first aid was a little small and shifted around in the ear canal, making 
*loud* popping noises every time the seal with the canal was broken. My 
audiologist made another mold and had another unit made (with slightly 
different frequency characteristics as well). It is much better.

>4) Background noise and "in-my-head" noises are very annoying. (e.g.
>wind noise, highway wind noise, eating popcorn at the movies, eating
>bagel chips, etc.)

This is one of the reasons I had that second aid made. Only I *wanted* the 
"ambience" of actually hearing the low level hiss and rush of air, leaves, 
wind, birds chirping, etc. I have a sloped roll-off of about 10db/octave up to 
50db at the top, so I have a different curve than yours.

The problem, in part, is that your hearing threshold and *pain* threshold are 
much closer together than for a normal hearing person. By the time a sound is 
audible, it doesn't have far to go to begin to be uncomfortable.

My first aid gave a boost to midrange, and upper midrange, but felt dull and 
muted. My current unit is sometimes a little harsh in the high end, but I have 
a much better time understanding speech, and I enjoy hearing little sounds. 

The noises from eating, etc. are annoying, but not, I think, all that unusual. 
It's just that we've done without them for so long we forget what it's like.

>5) When I put in my aids, about 15 minutes after my shower, sometimes
>water comes into my ear canal and I have to take out the aids and wipe
>them and my ear out to be comfortable.

Yup! Just wait until you're so comfortable in them that you forget to take 
them out *before* you step into the shower! Hearing aids don't like water!

>6) I feel "phantom" hearing aids for an hour or so after I take them

Again, I think it'll go away or you'll get used to it in a couple of months. 
I was really uncomfortable at times and had to take them out to let my ears 
"rest", both physically and from sound pressure. Nowadays, I take it out to 
dry off when I'm really sweaty, or in really loud environments when I don't 
need amplification. Otherwise I practically forget about it.

>Do you think I have the right product for me given this information?
>Thanks for any questions you can answer. It's all so new to me.

I can't say for sure whether the smaller units are going to be better for you 
or not. They are a little harder to get fitting right, but they are also 
closer to the eardrum and actually require less power to correct your 
response. I appreciate their invisibility. It still amazes me how small mine 
is. It's the most valuable object I own on a cost per ounce basis :^)

Your audiologist will more than likely be willing to help you as much as 
possible with fitting and tuning the response. Based on your initial 
experience you can tell them what you're *hearing* versus what the machine 
tells them. And you can probably get some help on fit, although mostly time is 
needed there.

Just don't give up. I wondered at first if I'd *ever* get used to it. Now I'm 
very glad to have it.


I wish you the best.


[Mike Devour, Citizen, Patriot, Libertarian]
[mdevour at id.net                         ]
[Speaking only for myself...               ]

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