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What to look for...and avoid...in a hearing aid.

 
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2011 08:24 pm
@roger,
Just here for a second...

From what I know about this case, definitely behind-the-ear, because of the amount of amplification needed.

Hearing aids absolutely do NOT affect hearing in purely audiological terms. Especially, using them will not improve your hearing in any way (even if preventing further loss). Not sure where that came from, but I'm pretty certain it's not true. I will hedge that somewhat in case there is a brand-new or obscure study I'm unaware of, but I have a lot of first-hand experience with this, a fair amount of formal education, and more than 20 years of being a very interested layperson (in terms of reading the latest research, etc.,) and I really don't think that's true.

Where the use it or lose it idea comes in is that the longer you have not been able to hear, the more of an adjustment your brain has to make once those sounds reach the brain again. That's still very individual though. If we make a scale of difficulty adjusting, 1-10 (with 10 being the most difficult), a given person may rate the adjustment as an 8 if they wait five years between hearing loss and aids, and a 4 if they get aids within a year of hearing loss. Another person might be a 4 if they wait five years and a 2 if they wait one year. Yet another might be a 3 at one year and a 3 at five years.

There aren't really any absolutes in how much adjustment there will be. Generally it's safe to say that longer is harder.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2011 08:27 pm
@littlek,
Wait you don't have an ear mold? (Sorry if you said this and I missed it.) At ~70 db you really should have an earmold, probably closed. (I had a plug in my earmold that adjusted according to my hearing -- some had little holes in them, some were solid. The worse my hearing was, the smaller the hole. Last several years I kept the solid plug in the whole time.)

I've been assuming you had a BTE with ear mold.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2011 08:36 pm
@sozobe,
Also my assumption, obviously.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2011 08:43 pm
@sozobe,
No ear mold. I know I will dislike the closed feeling of an earmold (I disliked the closed dome of the BTE). But, maybe some tiny holes in a mold to help with that could be made?

So, which would be better, do you think? A behind-the-ear with an earmold or an in-the-ear?
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2011 08:58 pm
@littlek,
Behind-the-ear with an earmold. You have a pretty major loss in the lower registers and in-the-ear won't be able to touch it, in my experience.

If you haven't been using an ear mold, by all means try one before giving up on your current hearing aid. They make a big difference. (But I think you'll have to pay, and that's money lost if you decide not to keep the aid, since an earmold is not returnable.)

The warbles suddenly make sense, that's when I'd change out the plugs (replace ones with holes for a solid plug). (Warbles meant I needed higher volume which meant I needed to close things up.)

My caveat is that I don't have firsthand experience with modern hearing aids. I stick by the BTE thing because of talking to friends who have hearing aids. But the warbles etc. may be out of date, I don't know.
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2011 09:33 pm
@sozobe,
Thanks, Soz!

This is (more or less) what I have. It's not the same brand, but the features are very similar:
http://image.made-in-china.com/4f0j00dBQtzAPJfVbW/Bte-Hearing-Aid-Open-Fit-Ming-U-.jpg


0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Aug, 2011 10:58 pm
@sozobe,
What's an ear mould as compared with the little plastic whatsit I have in my ear?

Definitely not moulded! How do moulds help, do you know?
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2011 12:01 am
@littlek,
My mother wore Miracle Ear analog hearing aids for about 15 years--the completely in-the-canal type--they were very reliable, required repairs infrequently, and she got excellent customer service from the franchise owner. She really had no complaints about either the hearing aids, her hearing, or the people she was dealing with. Her selection of the completely in-the-canal style was based on vanity--she didn't want anyone to be able to see she was wearing hearing aids.

Then the franchise owner switched from carrying Miracle Ear to Rhapsody, made by NuEar. At that point, my mother wanted to try digital aids, so she bought 2 in- the-canal (but not the smallest all the way inside the canal) top of the line Rhapsody hearing aids (they were $5200 for the pair almost three and a half years ago). She had problems with them from the get-go, and so did the people selling them. They had to adjust them using a computer program they were unfamiliar with, and they had great difficulty tuning them so she could hear speech, hear the TV, hear the doorbell, etc--the aids weren't automatically adjusting properly for different types of sounds, as they allegedly were supposed to do, and they weren't adjusting properly when she held a phone to her ear. Nothing that was done ever corrected all of the problems--she has continued to have problems hearing some types of sounds, or hearing in some situations. The numerous, somewhat frustrating, initial visits to get the adjustments made went well beyond the 30 days. They finally had to send one of the aids out to a lab to get the phone problem fixed because the aid kept giving off feedback no matter what they tried .

I wasn't happy with what was going on from the day she got the Rhapsody/NuEar aids, and I would have preferred she return them. But my mother had known these people for a long time, she liked dealing with them, and my mother isn't assertive about complaining. These aids never performed the way they should, as described, or touted, in their promotional material or by the seller. I think my mother actually has more difficulty hearing in a restaurant with these state-of-the-art digital aids than she ever had with her old analog Miracle Ears--the new ones pick up too much ambient noise, which is the opposite of what they should be doing. For $5200 my mother really got no improvement in her hearing over the analog aids she had been wearing previously. She also had far more repeated repair problems with one of the aids than seemed reasonable for a new device, but at least it had an initial two year warrenty that covered the charges. That hearing aid completely stopped working two months ago, and, since the warrenty had by then expired, the repair bill was $375 which included a new one year warrenty, but that's a lot less expensive than buying a new hearing aid.

I don't know whether the claims made for some of these hearing aids, like the Rhapsody/NuEar brand my mother purchased, just don't match what these hearing aids can actually do in terms of performance. I can't blame the people she purchased them from, because they've been in the hearing aid business for a very long time, and they did everything possible to try to address the issues my mother was having with these particular hearing aids. And my mother apparently wasn't the only person having problems because the hearing aid place she deals with seems to have dropped the Rhapsody/NuEar line and they are now acting as the franchised dealer for another make. Had Rhapsody been a rousing success I don't think that would have happened.

My mother's problems seem definitely related to the performance of those digital Rhapsody/NuEar hearing aids, and not to her type of hearing loss--she never had complaints about the old Miracle Ear analog aids. And she's always worn in-the-canal type aids. Whether she would be similarly disappointed with another brand of in-the-canal digital aids I don't know. But, I do know she had been promised she would experience a dramatic difference in her hearing, in all situations, when she shelled out her $5200--and that never happened. And, in some situations, her hearing was worse, and still seems worse, with these digital aids as compared to the old analog aids. But, she's learned to live with them, she definitely hears better with them then without them, and that's what's most important. She's going for another hearing test soon, so we may well be in for another round of adjustments and re-adjustments.

Allegedly, Rhapsody/NuEar is owned by Starkey, a major manufacturer of hearing aids, with a very good reputation, and Starkey circuitry is in the NuEar aids. Only about a handful of manufacturers make most of the hearing aids on the market, although they are sold under different brand names, so there really aren't radical differences in technology that should make one brand stand out over the others, or one brand drastically worse. I think most of the dissatisfaction, apart from possible poor customer service by a particular dealer, might simply be that these devices promise much more than they deliver, particularly at the high end of the price range. And, when people's expectations are high, and the aids can't deliver as promised, and the cost is high, you're going to hear a lot of complaints.

But I definitely agree with the article I linked to in my last post--a 30 day trial period is ridiculously short. At minimum, it should be twice that long.

I really hope you can find a solution that works well for you, littlek, whether it's a different model hearing aid, or a different make, or just some further adjustments to the ones you have now.

sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2011 07:52 am
@dlowan,
An ear mold is an actual mold of your ear canal. (To make it, they pour this quick-setting stuff into your ear, and it's the weirdest feeling ever when they take it out.)

The mold itself is then made to precisely fit in your ear canal (there is a bit of a trick to getting it in, some twisting), out of a sort of firm gel-type stuff.

I'm just not sure of the mechanics of it but in practical terms, it allowed me to turn up the volume on the hearing aid and get "cleaner" sound -- more accurate, less warbling, and less feedback.

It would replace the little plastic whatsit in littlek's picture, everything else is the same. (The tube going into it, etc.)
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2011 07:54 am
@firefly,
Firefly, the main thing with in-the-ear hearing aids vs. BTE's is power.

That is, an in-the-ear might work fine for someone with relatively low hearing loss. I'd say no more than 40 db, with 30 being safer. (That's entirely off-the-cuff.)

If you have a more severe hearing loss, though, like littlek does, then they just won't have enough power/ finesse to handle it.
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2011 11:13 am
@sozobe,
Based on what I had read, sozobe, I thought that for someone with a low frequency hearing loss, like littlek, the behind the ear style might not be the best choice.
Quote:

Open fit
These are usually very small behind-the-ear-style devices, although larger behind-the-ear devices can be modified for a more "open" fit. Sound travels from the instrument through a small tube or wire to a tiny dome or speaker in the ear canal. These aids leave the ear canal open, so they're best for mild to moderate high-frequency losses where low-frequency hearing is still normal or near normal.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hearing-aids/HQ00812


You have much more experience and knowledge in this area than I do, sozobe,
so I'll gladly accept what you're saying about power being the important factor for littlek.

sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2011 12:04 pm
@firefly,
That's a specific subtype of behind-the-ear, the open fit. From your link:

Quote:
Behind the ear
Behind-the-ear hearing aids hook over the top of your ear and rest behind the ear. The hearing aid picks up sound, amplifies it and carries the amplified sound to an ear mold that fits inside your ear canal. This type of aid is appropriate for almost all types of hearing loss and for people of all ages.

A behind-the-ear hearing aid:

Is the largest, most visible type of hearing aid, though some new versions are smaller, streamlined and barely visible
Is capable of more amplification than are other hearing aid styles


Emphases mine... that's last line has been my main point in terms of the severity of littlek's hearing loss in the lower frequencies.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  4  
Reply Fri 12 Aug, 2011 10:09 pm
The sales woman agreed about the earmold and took an impression to be shipped out. Should have the earmolds in next week. Should have another week after getting them before return window expires. Even using the generic earmold seemed much better than the small domes.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Aug, 2011 10:12 pm
@littlek,
Hope it works well!
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Aug, 2011 10:14 pm
@dlowan,
So, like now she agrees? I think you are your own with these things, littlek, re this company and the 'nice person'.

Not to be pissy, but that is my way.
You are allowed to back off.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2011 06:12 am
@littlek,
Cool, really hope that helps!

I think I'm going to have to investigate current hearing aids further (I started to try some new ones and didn't because who has the time and nobody [me or the ENT or the audiologist] really expected them to help) so I can be a bit more confident in my recommendations. I know a lot has changed in 20 years.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2011 06:59 am
@littlek,
That sounds encouraging. So you've got a temp earmold to use til your customized one arrives?
roger
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2011 04:31 pm
@ehBeth,
All they do locally is make a cast of the inside of the ear, and send it out to have a molded earpiece made from it.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Aug, 2011 04:32 pm
@roger,
yup. just like dentures. in a previous life, I placed people in jobs where they made the custom earpieces.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Aug, 2011 05:47 pm
Osso, she told me a while ago that I may need an earmold, but that she wanted to try the less obvious ones on me first. I was game for that.

I have no earmold to use until next week when mine come in, but I do have the old domes - two types of domes, actually (small and large open domes).
0 Replies
 
 

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