It is often not possible for an audiologist or hearing aid dispense professional to tweak new hearing aid or cochlear implant correctly during the first fitting. Those of us with hearing loss have varied lifestyles, which create individual hearing needs. If you have worn wearing aids or implants for a long period of time and have purchased upgrades or new devices, you know it may take several weeks or months of tweaking before your hearing devices are in tip-top hearing shape. Such is the case with me.

I purchased my new Oticon hearing aids earlier this year, and to date, I’ve had four adjustments. Several weeks ago, my audiologist realized that I was having a feedback problem due to ill-fitting ear molds. We scheduled another visit last week to correct it. 

While in his office, my audiologist opted to complete a hearing test to make sure my hearing was stable. Into the soundproof booth I went, ready to listen to the beeps and whistles in high and low-pitched tones. Luckily, nothing had changed with my hearing. Though I still have a profound hearing loss, I took the results as very good news.

My word recognition abilities were also tested and my audiologist was pleased to tell me that my left ear recognition scores had improved by ten percent. He claimed the higher score was more than just to test variation. He guessed the improvement may have come from my new hearing aids. “There is no scientific evidence to prove my theory,” he told me, “but it stands to reason that if you are hearing better in general, your brain gets used to sound.”

Over the years, my audiologist has encouraged me to maintain good hearing health. I told him I use hearing apps regularly. Two apps downloaded from the App store help me conquer minimal pairs. Words such as sip and ship or true and through may be difficult to distinguish, especially for those with a severe to profound hearing loss.

I also have several apps that work like flash cards. I simply click on a word, listen to it being said, and then repeat the word aloud to myself.  It is a good idea to look away from the app as the word is being said. That way you’ll get a feeling if you are understanding the word properly.

My audiologist also said that the Made-for-iPhone hearing aids might make a difference to good hearing health. With these types of aids or implants, you can directly connect to a variety of devices via Bluetooth. These leads to a cornucopia of hearing opportunities since one can stream the sound from movies, podcasts, books on tape, and television series, directly into your ears, providing a great opportunity to keep your brain in hearing health.

We ended my session deciding that hearing like other healthcare problems requires diligence and maintenance. People with hearing loss need to push themselves and think of maintaining good hearing health just as one would an exercise program. Developing a toned body comes with frequent exercise. The same holds true with hearing. If you allow yourself to hear as much as possible, your hearing should improve. Like physical health, you are never too old, nor is it ever too late to develop a good hearing maintenance program.

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Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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