Hearing Loss: No Day at the Beach
Thank you to everyone who has written to me to let me know that my last post was helpful in some way. It’s true that there is strength in numbers and I find it’s always helpful to know that you are not alone, no matter what your situation.
When last we left off, I was embarking on a trip further down the Hearing Loss Highway. It’s been almost 4 years since I got my first set of Resound (brand) Hearing Devices and, as with all technology, we occasionally need an upgrade. Technology is changing all around every day and hearing aids are no exception. Mine were getting glitchy and my insurance company thankfully covers new equipment every three years so off I went to my new Audiologist.
I wasn’t looking forward to taking another hearing test as I was pretty sure my hearing loss had progressed in the last few years. Though I would have liked to blame the technology, something told me that it was me that was becoming glitchy.
If you’ve never had a hearing test (or not one recently), it’s a pretty straightforward and physically painless process. You are given a headset in a sound proof room and the person administering the test sits right outside the booth, speaking to you directly into the headset; here they provide instructions and tell you what to expect. Then you are asked to listen for a series of tones and indicate visually 🖐 when you hear the tone. As you can guess, if you have some degree of loss, you will not hear all sounds equally. I oh-so-proudly raised my hand when I heard the tone (music to my ears!) and was a little embarrassed when there was a pause and I heard nothing, suspecting I had missed a crucial sound.
After this, the Audiologist will say a series of words, which you are to repeat. This is a truly telling indication of the type of loss you have.
The results of the test are then plugged into a graph called an Audiogram, which the Audiologist reads to decipher the degree and type of loss, if there is any.
Sounds are measured in decibels and the audiogram will display the decibel levels that are registering for you. Generally speaking, normal is considered hearing at 20 decibels or less. The audiogram shows the decibel level up to 120 This would be considered a “profound” hearing loss.
When I began this little trip of mine, I registered mild to moderate with my decibel range between 30-40. They give you examples of what you can’t hear at each level.
For your reference:
PROFOUND LOSS (100+ dB) loss may not hear a lawn mower or a motor cycle as they pass. That’s pretty significant (thankfully I am not there yet).
SEVERE LOSS (70-100 dB) Severe hearing loss will almost always affect a person’s daily life, At the this level, a person may not hear any traffic noises or even loud conversation.
MODERATE LOSS (40-60 dB) This is where I now live. I can tell you that (uncorrected) I cannot hear the tea kettle when it whistles or quiet conversation unless I am face-to-face. Strangely, restaurants are not an issue for me, but a movie theatre poses some challenges.
MILD LOSS (20-40 dB) Those that can hear at this level can hear most things, but a drip in the faucet might escape them and falling leaves may not be heard. (I would trade diagnosis for this one any day of the week; do not take your good hearing for granted!)
I’ve been fitted for new hearing devices to try out and so far, I’m loving them! My Audiologist has made adjustments for me (I’ll go into sounds and pitches in my next post and after my follow up visit, along with some other guidelines and tips).
I did find out which ear is better…..tip: sit to my left next time we eat together.