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Hearing Loss
Old 11-25-2011, 01:08 PM   #1
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Hearing Loss

I recently read about a hearing study that was being done at a near-by military hospital regarding tinnitus. Since I have been afflicted by this since since 1967, I thought I'd volunteer for the study. During my phone interview with the doc that was in charge of the study I found that I was not qualified for the study because I am so disaffected by the ailment. It seems that tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears) bothers many folks a lot more than it does me. I have learned to live with it and rarely even notice that the ringing continues 24/7. My personal condition is where they want folks that have tinnitus to be since it can never be cured and you just have to learn to live with it or go nuts. I chose the first option.

The doctor (Au.D) asked if I had ever had an audiology assessment. I said no. He suggested that I sign up for a complete hearing work up at the hospital. After I had the evaluation recently, I was advised that I have a pretty severe hearing loss on top of the tinnitus, probably due to being near military explosions years ago, and they have suggested a MRI evaluation to eliminate any brain problem that may be associated with hearing loss. I'll get that done next week.

The subject of hearing aids came up in the conversation and I was advised that the military hospital would be able to sell me a hearing aid for about $800, which is about 10% of the retail price. If I go thru the VA I should be able to get it at no cost. Do hearing aids really cost $8000?
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Old 11-25-2011, 01:14 PM   #2
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... they have suggested a MRI evaluation to eliminate any brain problem...
Be prepared for a rash of "Well, that explains a lot..." comments from friends and family.
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Old 11-25-2011, 01:20 PM   #3
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they have suggested a MRI evaluation
I remember C-rations not very fondly, but I'm sure you'll find one of those Meals-Ready-to-Ingest to be quite palatable in comparison. Be sure to evaluate it fairly, though.
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Old 11-25-2011, 03:01 PM   #4
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The subject of hearing aids came up in the conversation and I was advised that the military hospital would be able to sell me a hearing aid for about $800, which is about 10% of the retail price. If I go thru the VA I should be able to get it at no cost. Do hearing aids really cost $8000?
I have never shopped for them, but from what I understand there are huge differences in hearing aids, and their prices vary accordingly from staggeringly high to cheap. So, I wouldn't be surprised at all if that hearing aid costs $8K but another might cost much less.
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Old 11-25-2011, 03:16 PM   #5
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The doctor (Au.D) asked if I had ever had an audiology assessment. I said no. He suggested that I sign up for a complete hearing work up at the hospital. After I had the evaluation recently, I was advised that I have a pretty severe hearing loss on top of the tinnitus, probably due to being near military explosions years ago, and they have suggested a MRI evaluation to eliminate any brain problem that may be associated with hearing loss. I'll get that done next week.
The subject of hearing aids came up in the conversation and I was advised that the military hospital would be able to sell me a hearing aid for about $800, which is about 10% of the retail price. If I go thru the VA I should be able to get it at no cost. Do hearing aids really cost $8000?
You can tell people that you may not hear so good, but you listen as well as you ever have...

Yes, hearing aids can cost $8000-- but when you buy one at that price you get the second ear free. They're sophisticated digital signal processors with lots of tweaks to their settings, plus advanced battery tech. But I'm sure that the manufacturers have added a healthy profit margin to the equipment, since it's a specialty chip without the same volume production as a CPU.

My FIL worked long, stressful overtime hours at CBS (ironically, mostly audio) for over 30 years. Near the middle of his third decade he developed tinnitus. For him it sounded like a sink faucet had been left on at max flow. It visibly aged him over the next few months but he eventually adapted to it. Now he mostly fusses with his hearing aids and can ignore the tinnitus.
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Old 11-25-2011, 05:11 PM   #6
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If you live long enough you're likely to suffer some fair amount of hearing loss. Years back we were using toilet paper for hearing protection on military firing ranges. These days, ear plugs seem to be standard issue.
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Old 11-25-2011, 08:47 PM   #7
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I had a friend who spent about 7k on them last fall. Of course, he needs to understand in order for them to help, they need to be put on each day. After a few months, I noticed he began to wear them less frequently. I doubt his hearing ( higher pitched sounds, especially female voices caused him problems) has improved so maybe wearing them are a pain.
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:45 PM   #8
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I've learned to control my tinnitus through self hypnosis--can't cure it, but I can usually turn it off, and it stays off until it comes on again, (Yogi)
So far, I haven't scheduled that brain damage check DW says she can answer that question anytime I'm ready..
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:54 PM   #9
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I had a friend who spent about 7k on them last fall. Of course, he needs to understand in order for them to help, they need to be put on each day. After a few months, I noticed he began to wear them less frequently. I doubt his hearing ( higher pitched sounds, especially female voices caused him problems) has improved so maybe wearing them are a pain.
My mom also has hearing aids but doesn't wear them that often. When you are used to the "quiet" (due to hearing loss), it's very tiresome to hear every little noise again apparently.
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:22 PM   #10
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Lena's Costco hearing aids were $2900 and they are very good. We were impressed with the audiologist.

My tinnitus is occasionally annoying, but I usually don't notice it. An ENT doc once told me that it would get better as my age increases and my hearing declines. He was wrong, and I think it is getting worse.
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Old 11-26-2011, 02:47 PM   #11
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It seems that tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears) bothers many folks a lot more than it does me. I have learned to live with it and rarely even notice that the ringing continues 24/7. My personal condition is where they want folks that have tinnitus to be since it can never be cured and you just have to learn to live with it or go nuts. I chose the first option.
I am like you. I have had it for decades but don't normally notice it. As soon as I read your post I noticed it seemed to start roaring. Now I need to distract myself.
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Old 11-26-2011, 05:06 PM   #12
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I haven't had mine tested, but am sure I have a deficiency. I am surprised over the wide range of prices for hearing aides and this also makes me somewhat suspicious of their value (kind of like buying an annuity). I know several people that have one, but do not wear it regularly and have also expressed dissatisfaction with the performance.
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Old 11-26-2011, 05:20 PM   #13
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Frequent exposure to Howitzers, 175 mm, 7.62, 50 cal., etc. produce frequency specific hearing losses.

I happen to have a high pass filter centered around 600Hz.... ie, can not hear anything within about 20 Hz of 600. Drives civilian audiologists nuts. Military audiologists know why. OTOH some frequencies I am extremely sensitive to, and can hear some whispers from waaaaay across the room.

I have an original audiogram from a few months prior to separation from service. The few times I had to have hearing tests, when the Hearing doc comes by to explain the need for hearing aids etc, I pull out my old graph and ask if the one he is looking at is similar to this one. The look of bafflement is priceless, and discussion of electronic enhancement is discontinued.

YMMV
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Old 11-26-2011, 05:36 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by justplainbll View Post
If you live long enough you're likely to suffer some fair amount of hearing loss. Years back we were using toilet paper for hearing protection on military firing ranges. These days, ear plugs seem to be standard issue.
In the mid '60s we used the filters from cigarettes. As my hearing loss has increased over the years, the ringing in my ears has decreased. During a hearing work-up about 15 years ago the audiologist told me hearing aids would not help my condition. She said they would increase the volume but not improved the clarity. Instead, she gave me information to give to family members on how to deal with the hearing impaired. In short, get their attention before speaking to them.
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:01 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl
Lena's Costco hearing aids were $2900 and they are very good. We were impressed with the audiologist.

My tinnitus is occasionally annoying, but I usually don't notice it. An ENT doc once told me that it would get better as my age increases and my hearing declines. He was wrong, and I think it is getting worse.
I wouldnt begin to understand tinnitis, as I have never had it, but it must be some serious stuff to deal with. Was just reading on a website that a 53 year old man from Europe developed it from attending a rock concert 3 months ago and couldnt deal with it anymore and committed suicide over it.
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:31 PM   #16
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Frequent exposure to Howitzers, 175 mm, 7.62, 50 cal., etc. produce frequency specific hearing losses.

I happen to have a high pass filter centered around 600Hz.... ie, can not hear anything within about 20 Hz of 600. Drives civilian audiologists nuts. Military audiologists know why. OTOH some frequencies I am extremely sensitive to, and can hear some whispers from waaaaay across the room.

I have an original audiogram from a few months prior to separation from service. The few times I had to have hearing tests, when the Hearing doc comes by to explain the need for hearing aids etc, I pull out my old graph and ask if the one he is looking at is similar to this one. The look of bafflement is priceless, and discussion of electronic enhancement is discontinued.

YMMV
I'm confused. Why can't a hearing aid boost the band between 20- 600 Hz? Why would his position change after seeing a graph similar to the one he looked at?

(edit - I see I misread - that is a band of 20 Hz around 600 hz, or ~580 to 620 Hz.

But I'm still confused - if his graph indicated that electronic enhancement could help, why would seeing your (similar?) graph change his view? )


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Old 11-26-2011, 11:45 PM   #17
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My husband is hard of hearing. His audiologist was recommended by a physician, she lives on the Olympic Peninsula in WA. She has a PhD, and is hard of hearing herself. She told him that, essentially, the parts of the brain that process sound will be allocated to other tasks if not utilized and that over time will loose the capacity to re-wire. That his hearing loss will progress acutely if not aided.

My husband has a pair of one of the more expensive hearing aids by Oticon and loves them. He has used two others previously. There is only a tiny speaker on the end of a fine plastic tube that goes on the ear canal so he has no problems with wax build up and irritations in the ear canal are infrequent. The chip that amplifies sound has software that permits 'fine tuning' to match his hearing loss and changes in his hearing. He also has a volume control on a lanyard which also enables him to limit background noise while holding a conversation (restaurants are common places he uses this). The hearing aids are bluetooth-able so he can hear his cell phone through the aids, the lanyard itself is the antenna. The price paid for the aids includes annual assessments, batteries, cleaning and replacement speakers.

A friend of ours is also covered by the VA and would love for them to give him a voucher so that he can buy one like DH's.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:40 AM   #18
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I'm confused. Why can't a hearing aid boost the band between 20- 600 Hz? Why would his position change after seeing a graph similar to the one he looked at?

(edit - I see I misread - that is a band of 20 Hz around 600 hz, or ~580 to 620 Hz.

But I'm still confused - if his graph indicated that electronic enhancement could help, why would seeing your (similar?) graph change his view? )


-ERD50
Actually the graph only conveys factual information. The idea of electronic enhancement is more of a cost benefit sales tool in the minds of the participants.

There really is no justifiable reason to go for a a hearing aid expense when only a roughly 40 hz band is missing, everything else is in the normal, and some in the super sensitive range. And the condition existed since age 21. Lat test around age 50 showed less than a 1db deviation.

It is rare that a hear doc (ENT types) sees an audiogram from a long time ago, especially one made by military audiologist, of someone that has not been a clieant of theirs or some other other doc for extended period of time.

While technically feasible to tailor a device, to stick in my ear, the hear doc understood instantly the adaptation is quiet successful, and seeing only very minor deviation over thirty years. Besides my look with twisted raised eyebrows conveyed more information than words could.

Very seldom do I find problems understanding of speech. A very few times is inconvenient but so what. At one time I actually modified a headphone amp with with a high gain band pass at 600Hz +/- 30 hz with sharp cutoffs to hear the difference. The additional sound was OK but nothing to write home about.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:57 AM   #19
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My husband is hard of hearing. His audiologist was recommended by a physician, she lives on the Olympic Peninsula in WA. She has a PhD, and is hard of hearing herself. She told him that, essentially, the parts of the brain that process sound will be allocated to other tasks if not utilized and that over time will loose the capacity to re-wire. That his hearing loss will progress acutely if not aided.
I have a cochlear implant in one of my ears. I haven't used it for a long time due to the cost of having it repaired/replaced too frequently. Anyway, when I did wear it, the brain was really what interpreted the sounds that the implant picked up from the apparatus. The last time I wore it (before it conked out on me) my brain was beginning to hear sounds as they sounded to normal people, not just random tones produced by the apparatus.

My hearing has really gone further downhill since I retired. I think it probably has to do with not being around people very much and my brain is losing the ability to process those sounds. I depend so much on close captioning that I some times think I'm hearing when I am actually seeing the words on the captioning. Probably my brain re-wiring itself.

No one in my town deals with cochlear implants any longer, however, there are some people in the state that do. I have seriously thought about looking into getting another cochlear apparatus before my brain completely loses it's ability to interpret sounds all together. My implant is for 22 electrodes and I believe now most implants are for 24 electrodes...I have a very old implant in my head.
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:50 PM   #20
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Actually the graph only conveys factual information. The idea of electronic enhancement is more of a cost benefit sales tool in the minds of the participants.

There really is no justifiable reason to go for a a hearing aid expense when only a roughly 40 hz band is missing, everything else is in the normal, and some in the super sensitive range. And the condition existed since age 21. Lat test around age 50 showed less than a 1db deviation.

It is rare that a hear doc (ENT types) sees an audiogram from a long time ago, especially one made by military audiologist, of someone that has not been a clieant of theirs or some other other doc for extended period of time.

While technically feasible to tailor a device, to stick in my ear, the hear doc understood instantly the adaptation is quiet successful, and seeing only very minor deviation over thirty years. Besides my look with twisted raised eyebrows conveyed more information than words could.

Very seldom do I find problems understanding of speech. A very few times is inconvenient but so what. At one time I actually modified a headphone amp with with a high gain band pass at 600Hz +/- 30 hz with sharp cutoffs to hear the difference. The additional sound was OK but nothing to write home about.
I see. I thought that the 600 Hz notch was causing you problems, since it is right in the vocal range.

So you are saying that the doc was ready to sell you something, because he could identify a 'problem', w/o really evaluating how much of an actual problem this was for you, or how much the device would help? I do think there is a tendency to up/over-sell these things.

The type Brat described a few posts back seem good (although expensive) - being mostly outside the ear is a good thing for a number of reasons.


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I have a cochlear implant in one of my ears. I haven't used it for a long time due to the cost of having it repaired/replaced too frequently. Anyway, when I did wear it, the brain was really what interpreted the sounds that the implant picked up from the apparatus. The last time I wore it (before it conked out on me) my brain was beginning to hear sounds as they sounded to normal people, not just random tones produced by the apparatus. ...

I have seriously thought about looking into getting another cochlear apparatus before my brain completely loses it's ability to interpret sounds all together. My implant is for 22 electrodes and I believe now most implants are for 24 electrodes...I have a very old implant in my head.
It is amazing to me that a 22 band device can be actually 'heard' as anything close to normal sound. I tried simulating this with a vocoder in a sound program (Audacity), but I couldn't get it working right, I'll try again later. I also didn't realize that the brain would lose its ability to process sound. Fascinating.

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