My type of hearing loss is called Sensorineural hearing loss, meaning that my inner ear hair cells or nerves have become less effetive. My hearing loss was caused by a lifetime of exposure to loud noises. When I was young, I raced motorcycles and worked weekends at a local drag race track. As I got older I joined the Army and after that, a law enforcement career. I call this exposure to loud sounds… MY LIFE.
I have personally worn hearing aids for 13 years. In that amount of time, I have worn four different sets of hearing aids from four different hearing aid manufacturers. I live a very active lifestyle. I am the kind of person that always wants the latest and greatest hearing aid technology that I can get.
Joining the world of better hearing and getting a new set of hearing aids is not like getting a new pair of glasses for eyesight correction. Generally, when I get new glasses, instantly everything is clear and in-focus. Getting a new set of hearing aids requires a bit more time, patience and understanding.
I was told along time ago that we don’t hear with our ears, but we hear with our brains. Our ears are nothing more than an energy conversion device. Our outer ears gather up sound (acoustic energy) and directs it to the eardrum. At the eardrum this acoustic energy strikes the eardrum and is changed into mechanical or moving energy. Attached to the other side of our eardrum is a string of small bones called the ossicular chain. The mechanical energy is transmitted through the ossicular chain to the inner ear. The inner ear is a fluid filled organ called the Cochlea. At the inner, mechanical energy is transformed into hydraulic energy. As the ossiculer chain vibrates against the fluid filled inner ear it creates small waves. Floating in the inner ear are little nerves or hair cells called stereocilia. As the waves move back and forth in the inner ear, the stereocilia move also, similar to waves in a pond moving tall grass. As the sterocilia move back and forth they generate small electrical impulses that pass though a nerve and are sent to the brain.
My hearing loss (and most others) is because my stereocilia has become less effective, due to my life of exposure to noise. This type of hearing loss is called Sensorineural hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and used to be called “Nerve Damage”. Sensorineural hearing loss generally comes on gradually. So gradually that many hardly notice it, and without thinking will compensate for it. Many people compensate for their hearing loss by watching others mouth movement (lip reading) or asking others to repeat themselves. Some even say that others seem to mumble. A study was done in 2018 by the Hearing Health Foundation. In this study it was determined that there was an 8.9 year gap between the time a person discovered they had hearing loss and the time they decided to get hearing aid help.
When a person finally does decide to get the hearing help they need and start wearing hearing aids, initially things don’t sound normal. That’s because they aren’t. The “old normal”, things sound different because they are. I have found it takes at least a few weeks and sometimes even a few months for the brain to adapt to the “new normal“.
With new hearing aids, even for experienced wearers, there is no such thing as a single “set it and forget it” hearing perfection outcome. With hearing aids, the brain will require several sound adjustments over varying periods of time to get you and your brain in sync with your new hearing aids.
Hearing Aid Maintenance
The best hearing aid maintenance program is a simple daily cleaning and inspection by the user themselves. Most hearing aid issues are caused by a dead battery, clogged wax filter or dirty microphone.
Over 90% of all hearing issues are earwax related. Although we try to keep our ear canals clean, sometimes there is just no way to prevent earwax from getting into our hearing aids. Daily brushing of the earwax filter and periodically changing the filter itself is necessary. Every hearing aid brand, style, and technology level, no matter the quality or how much they cost, is subject to maintenance issues.
Even after you start wearing hearing aids, your hearing loss will change. Almost always, just as before you started wearing aids, your hearing will get worse. No matter what kind of hearing aid you get or whether you purchase them an online or local vendor, sound adjustments will be necessary. Make sure if you buy hearing aids online that sound adjustments from that vendor are available.
I have seen many online hearing aid vendors that just sell hearing aids without having anywhere to send your aids to if you do have a repair issue. Most don’t have hearing aid remote or personal programming capabilities. Select only an online vendor that does have remote and/or personal programming services available.
I Personally Recommend
I personally recommend HearSource.com. As I mentioned previously, I am on my forth set of hearing aids. I purchased the first three sets from local hearing aid vendors. I paid between $4-6,000 per set. I recently purchased a set of Widex Evoke 440’s for less than $3,600. That was more than $2,000 less than my local hearing aid vendor quoted me. HearSource.com has an in-house hearing aid repair lab and remote programming services available. As I did my research, they seemed to be unique in this aspect.
HearSource.com has met my every need and exceeded my expectations as far as the fitting and programming my new hearing aids is concerned. They have done as well as, if not better then, my local hearing aid providers of the past.
So there it is, my hearing aid journey. I hope my 13 years of hearing aid experiences and research will help those that need help with their own hearing loss or hearing aid selection .
(Used by permission from Robert Hill by HearSource.com)