What's in this blog? Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

"Mankind is terrified of silence, is uncomfortable in the quiet, is this the reason they need so much going on around them that is noisy? "

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bluetooth, or Crazy Person?

 from net article on Ten Most Annoying Smartphone habits,

Bluetooth, or Crazy Person?
OK, we admit it. If you have just the right fashion sense to go with it, your Bluetooth can make you look like an awesome sci-fi movie cyborg.
But remember, to half of the world, you just look like you're jabbering away to no one in particular.
If you're walking, it makes it awful hard to tell the difference between you and a raving homeless person. And if you're sitting next to us, say in a restaurant or on the subway, listening to you have a one-way conversation into the void is just annoying.

No Bluetooth headset required so most folks assume I am talking to myself when in some cases is a good thing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Not Perfect But Better Than Nothing, Guess Less

I had one of hearing aids checked out today because of an issue with the speaker wire. While I was waiting my audiologist asked me how I liked my hearing aids.

Wearing my hearing aids

I guess less about what someone is saying to me.

Soft consonants are still very hard for me to understand. No surprise, I expected this based on my hearing tests.  Penny also mentioned this when I was fitted for the hearing aids.

The hearing aids are very light and comfortable. It's not unusual for me to wear them 15 or 16 hours a day and I forget I have them on.

The Bluetooth interface with my Blackberry is very cool and usable. People look at me when I am on the phone because they don't realize I am talking on the phone, no headset! The battery on the Streamer gets low after a couple of hours on the phone. I carry a charger in my car for the Streamer.

I didn't realize how noisy my Subaru Forester is above 50 mph until I try to use my Blackberry. I think I can hear about every other word. Most of the time I stop to talk on the phone. Much safer too.

No hearing aids will replace the hearing I have lost but life is much better with them.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bagpipes and Hearing Aids, it's Not Rock and Roll

Several times a year I am privileged to hear bagpipes close up and personal at masonic lodge functions that I attend and participate in. I love the pipes and the traditional tunes. The pipes played indoors in small rooms create some interesting harmonics and present a challenge to my hearing aids, being loud and louders. Doing some research I found out that the British Army has looked into this. See below

Over the years there has been many discussions if playing in a pipe band can lead to hearing damage or loss. With many tests done and surveys conducted one can conclude that members of a band could indeed sustain hearing damage.

Without hearing protection, members face a serious risk of lasting hearing damage as decibel levels are over 90. Outdoors it has been recorded that pipes can reach decibel levels ranging between 108 to 111. 111 decibels is equivalent to how loud a pneumatic drill is.

Indoors, pipes can reach decibel levels up to 116, which is as loud as a chainsaw. Snare drums can hit up to 122 decibels. The noise level is louder than the sound produced by a jet engine at take off.

In 2006, the Ministry of Defence in Britain ordered Army bagpipers to limit playing indoors 15 minutes a day and 24 minutes a day when playing outdoors. If the piper wants to play longer they have to wear ear protection.

So we can stop telling the kids to moderate their IPod volume and limit our appreciation of the pipes to about 15 minutes indoors. I think next time I will turn my hearing aids off.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Can Pills Make Make Me Loose My Hearing?

Some time ago, there were articles posted that Viagra causes a hearing loss. Some consider it an an occupational hazard for men in the Porn industry. There are other medications that can effect your hearing even if you don't use Viagra. Some of the hearing loss is temporary while other effects are permanent.

Viagra Hearing Loss Study

List of some medications that effect your hearing

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Study: 30% increase in teens with hearing loss

I wonder if the numbers are going up because the screening is getting better. Doesn't look like hearing aid manufacturers or audiologists have to worry about a lack of customers.

Excerpt from the study

" The type of damage found by researchers conducting the study isn't usually associated with exposure to loud noises, although doctors aren't ruling out blaring music as a possible cause. Some audiologists say the causes may be related to an increase in certain genetic disorders, for example, or the fact that premature babies, who are often more susceptible to hearing loss as they get older, have better survival rates than ever before.
Whatever the reason, 30 percent more of today's teenagers have some level of hearing loss compared with their peers in the late '80s and early '90s, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. One in 20 youths between the ages of 12 and 19 has enough damage that it may impact the ability to listen and learn.
"That's a huge jump in hearing loss," said Dr. Lawrence Lustig, director of otology and neurotology at UCSF. "You really need to start doing some much more intense testing on these kids" to determine what is causing it, he said."

Study: 30% increase in teens with hearing loss Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2010%2F08%2F17%2FMN4B1EVC81.DTL#ixzz0wzF9BFN8

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fun with Sensormatic Theft Detection systems

You know those theft deterrent systems that some stores use? They are the white tags that in books, clothes and other merchandise that have to be removed or deactivated or the alarm goes off when you pass by the antennas mounted near the stores exit doors. My hearing aids and or Streamer trips the buzzer, going in or out. Most of the time I keep on walking unless some asks to check my bag. Sometimes I don't have a bag and all I get is puzzled looks and "never mind".

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's so great about hearing aids?

I have had my hearing aids for six months tomorrow. Are the hearing aids worth time effort and expense? For me they certainly are.


It is much easier to hear my wife and actually understand what she is saying to me. A lot less guessing about what she is saying to me. Fewer misunderstandings and we laugh about them now.

Meetings and social events are a lot more fun. I did not realize how I was missing out on. Noisy places like Starbucks are tolerable now. I still think the architects and designers who design restaurants should be sentenced to work in them for at least a month.Too many of them are too damned noisy.

High tech hearing aids are cool, the hearing aid's ability to learn and adapt means I rarely adjust the volume any more. The blue tooth interface is a must with the Blackberry. It took a while for me to understand what the hearing aids were doing.

Zero issues with hearing aids or blue tooth. Easy to set-up and tweak. Battery replacement and routine maintenance only takes a few minutes a day.

My Subaru has turn indicator relays that make noise when you use them or leave them on. The tires also make a lot more noise than I thought. Never heard them until six months ago.

My vintage audio systems sound a lot better. Treble boost is now set flat.

Costco has great prices on hearing aid batteries, about half the price that Walgreen's wants for the same batteries.


As expected the hearing aids can't fix all of my hearing issues. I still have a hard time hearing soft consonants and some conversations. 

My hearing aids are very small, easy to loose if I don't put them up. I lost them in a hotel room one night.

I get feedback on certain frequencies above 2000 Hz and a some volume levels while listening to some instrumental music. But the hearing aids are learning and adapting so this happens very infrequently.

Are the hearing aids worth $8000? Do they improve the quality of my life? You bet. I left the house one morning without my HA's and realized that something was wrong. It took a minute or so to realize that I left my ears at the house. Good thing I was only a a few blocks away so the return trip and remedy was quick.

If you think you have a hearing problem, get your hearing tested and may be even fitted for hearing aids. Life is too short and too much to miss out on any of it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Oh Where Oh Where Are My Hearing Aids?

A few weeks ago at the end of a very long day, I check into a hotel, found my room, put my bags down and sat down on the bed. I woke up several hours later, the TV was still on and I was still dressed. After a few minutes I realized that I was not wearing my hearing aids. No big deal I usually out them in their storage case. Check the case, empty. Checked the bed spread, found my glasses and Blackberry no hearing aids. Crap, where did I put them?

I could imagine the call to my wife.

me: "Honey, remember those $8000 hearing aids I bough? I lost them in a hotel room."
wife: "You what?"
wife: long pause, silence "Find 'em before you come home"
Click, dial tone

This conversation never took place because I found them in one of my shoes with my keys and wallet. No clue how they got there.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hearing Aids in Prime Time! CSI Miami, Hearing Aids are now cool.

Back in February, there was an episode of CSI Miami where Natalia shows off her new hearing aid.  She was wearing a BTE on only one ear. In a later episode, she mentions twice that her hearing aid  was not working because of  bug worn by Eric. Didn't know that bugs cause problems with hearing aids. At least hearing aids are now cool at least on very pretty women. Don't know about 55 year old guys though.

CSI Miami blog about hearing aids

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What If Beethoven Had Hearing Aids?

Imagine how the history of music would have been changed if Beethoven had digital hearing aids. I am fan of alternative history. Which is using 20/20 hindsight to imagine how history would have been changed if events in the past would have happened differently. I imagine Beethoven's emphasis would have been on performing rather than composing. I suspect he would also had a much happier life. Hearing loss and deafness have never been easy to live with even today.

Article about Beethoven's deafness

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.5 "Emperor Concerto" tonight

from Wikipedia
The Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73 by Ludwig van Beethoven, popularly known as the "Emperor Concerto", was his last piano concerto. It was written between 1809 and 1811 in Vienna, and was dedicated to Archduke Rudolf, Beethoven's patron and pupil. The first performance took place in November 1811, at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the soloist being Friedrich Schneider. In 1812, Carl Czerny, his student, gave the Vienna debut of this work.

40 minutes in my family room with the lights off so I can concentrate solely on the music. My wife reminded me tonight that this all started when I got my hearing aids. May be it's the piano, an instrument I learned to play as a child or just the pleasure of listening to the third movement. Whatever the reason , it's good to be alive and hearing tonight.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wife Says No Hearing Aids, No Talk, She Who Must Be Obeyed

I usually put in my hearing aids after I have my coffee and catch up on the news, blogs and email. Not anymore, my wife misunderstood some our conversations and she has proclaimed. "I won't talk to you until you are wearing your hearing aids".

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hockey Games, Loud ? 100 plus dB

Last Friday my wife and I attended our first professional hockey game. The Texas Stars won 2-1. It was three hours of very loud noises. The game was fast and fun to watch. When the Stars scored a goal, the air horn was loud enough for my wife to cover her ears. There was a little girl a few seats from us wearing hearing protection. Read below to find out why.

Here's a quote from a government study on the noise levels at the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoff's.

Noise Level at Hockey games

During game 3 of the series, the scoring of goals led to fairly obvious spikes in the noise level (Fig. 1figure 
17FF1). A level of 120 dB A is roughly equivalent to the sound level of a jet taking flight. (A-weighting is a filtering function applied to the noise dosimeter so that it is sensitive to input frequencies in the same way as the typical adult ear is.) The intermissions offered a temporary reprieve for the ears, but even during those interludes, the noise level was such that in an equivalent 8 h/day workplace environment, hearing protection would be required by law.
figure 17FF1
Fig. 1: Noise exposure level for the duration of game 3 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals. Key points of interest are indicated. The red line at 90 dB indicates a derived “safe” level of this 3-hour game. Sounds above the line have the potential (more ...)
The average exposure levels for each game (> 3 hours) were 104.1, 100.7 and 103.1 dB. Standards have been defined for maximum allowable daily noise doses,2 and an average level of 85 dB A for 8 hours is generally considered the maximum allowable daily noise dose. Stated differently, this means that there is a risk of hearing damage if you experience that level of noise for more than 8 hours. For each 3 dB increase in average noise level, the time you can safely stay at a level is halved. Thus, at 88 dB, it would take only 4 hours to reach the maximum allowable daily noise dose, at 91 dB it would take only 2 hours, and so on. For the levels experienced in game 3 of the series, the time to reach the maximum allowable daily noise dose was less than 6 minutes. In terms of projected noise dose, each person in the arena not wearing hearing protection received about 8100% of their daily allowable noise dose. Given that most fans do not wear hearing protection during hockey games, thousands are at risk for hearing damage.
Next time, I am taking my hearing aids out and putting my ear plugs in!

Vintage Audio, Vintage Ears, I Got My Highs Back

I have recently rediscovered how great my vintage stereo sounds with my hearing aids. I had been listening to less and less music because it was no longer fun to listen. Everything sounded flat, dull and muted. I realize now that I could not hear the high notes, no matter how loud I played the music. My wife also had something to say about rattling the plates when turned the volume up too high.

Just to make life more interesting I found some highly regarded vintage audio components at the local Goodwill store. The amplifier, preamplifier and tuner were built by a company named Quad Electroacoustics Ltd. or Quad for short. Absolutely first rate construction and a bit eclectic, like an old MG. The preamp uses 5 pin din connectors and has some interesting features. Now I have something to drive my AR-4X speakers. Not the loudest system but full sound, smooth highs and plenty of mid range and bass. My office sounds much better with something other than computer speakers to use my iPod Touch.

Quad 34 preamp,Quad FM4 Tuner and Quad 606 Amplifier

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Challenging Day, Listening is Hard Work

Today started with a bang when my laptop stopped charging the battery and died. So off to the office at 0630 to swap out a hard drive and try to stay on schedule. 2 hours later, I was on my way to the customer's office when the Streamer battery gave it's 30 min warning. I had charged it Sunday night, I think. I carry a charger with so I only had to live without it for a couple of hours. I spent a couple of hours on the land line with a poor connection talking to a tech who talked like he had marbles in his mouth. He also liked to talk FAST. Arrgh! Half way through the call, disconnected and dial tone. Call tech support and start all over, twice. I think I heard every other word. About this time, the customer's PC decided it was Monday and time to give us a blue screen of death. Time for lunch in Elgin.

After lunch, the Streamer was charged and all I had to deal with was very poor call quality. About 4pm, all three systems were updated and lessons learned.

1. Hearing a phone conversation with both ears is much better than one ear. The Streamer is not a just a gadget, it's become essential to my hearing.

2. Turning up the HA volume did not help. Turning off the hearing aid speakers does make it easier to focus on the conversation.

3. Asking the the guy on the other end of the call to slow down and pause between sentences did help.

4. Sometimes, listening is hard work.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Lot of Technology on the Dresser

With the arrival of the iPod Touch I took note of what was on my dresser last night.

Hearing Aids in the Dry & Store, batteries changed yesterday morning.

Blackberry charging

Laptop charging

iPod charging and synching

Streamer charging

my wife's head set and Google cell phone charging

3 remotes and the wireless keyboard in their cradles and out of reach of the puppy.

I am screwed if the power goes off

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Can You Speak Louder Please?

I spent several days with two of my brothers, a cousin and some friends fishing in the Ozarks in Arkansas last week. Several times, one of the guys would tell me, "Your speaking too softly, speak up!" I realized that I was talking at a normal volume and the hearing aids were working great. I had to concentrate to speak loud enough to have a conversation.

The hearing aid volume did change several times in the boat and outside in the wind as noise level changed. I heard birds, frogs and other critters than I never heard on my previous trips. I also heard the fly line going through the rod guides when I made a cast. Interesting.

I suspect I will not be the only brother in my family wearing hearing aids in few years.

Apple iPod Touch, Bluetooth, very cool

I spent most of today playing with my new iPod Touch and have to say it is very cool. Best Buy matched their web price which was the same as Amazon. It synched up with my Streamer using Bluetooth on the first try. The sound quality using the hearing aid speakers is better than I expected. I only had one issue late today with the Bluetooth interface. The iPod was very busy playing a song with the Streamer active but all of the sudden, no music going to my hearing aids. What the ?? I fixed the problem by removing and rediscovering the Streamer in the Ipod Bluetooth set-up. The convenience of not using a cable between the Streamer and MP3 player is worth the additional cost of the Touch versus less expensive players. I can now play most CD library any where I travel.  Link to official Apple Ipod Touch

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quick, Where's the Volume Control? Cafe Java

What do you do on a cold, wet, rainy day at lunch time? Eat lunch at Cafe Java along with 40 of your closest strangers. Cafe Java in Round Rock has great, healthy meals. Yesterday however, it was crowded and noisy. The waiter said it was normal and he had tuned it out. The noise level to me was border line on painful. My hearing aids were selective, with some voices louder than others. There were four teenage girls in the booth behind us. I heard most of what the girls were saying about school, guys and other stuff like I was sitting next to them. They giggled and laughed a lot more than I do.

This lunch was the best argument I have heard for hearing aid's with remote volume controls without sticking your fingers in your ears. 3 beeps lower than normal, the roar turned into a burble.

Then I realized that my wife was talking to me. "Blah, blah, blah, blah" Huh? Hell no I can't understand you. So 2 beeps louder on the remote and I could understand what she was saying to me. The background noise became exactly that.

I heard every word the server said and ordered my lunch without anyone repeating anything. Most important of all, I could actually hear what my wife was saying and give her a no BS answer. The firmware and programming in the Dual XW's is amazing. Just for grins, I turned them off for a few minutes during lunch to remind myself what the world sounded like three months ago. There is no way I would go back to the world of marginal hearing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Losing My Compensating Skills?

After my hearing aids died at work yesterday ( 2 beeps and 15 min later, dead batteries). I had to listen unaided for about an hour to a typical busy Monday morning. I found myself guessing what people were saying, filling in the gaps and shouting. After I replaced the batteries and powered up the hearing aids, I realized that I seem to have lost my ability to compensate for my hearing loss. Or maybe I wasn't as good at it as I thought I was. My wife says the latter is true.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Not Without Your Hearing Aids

 A couple of nights ago, I was talking to my wife after I took my HA's out.  A few minutes after our conversation started she told me. "I won't talk to you without your hearing aids, it's too hard to talk to you without them." She was right, lesson learned.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Asprin and Other Pain Killers Linked to Hearing Loss in Men

I have been taking 81mg Aspirin for several years as a preventative measure against heart disease. This article dated Mar. 1 links  Aspirin with hearing loss in men 50-59 yrs old. Nothing is free or risk free.

Pain Killers Linked to Hearing Loss

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Forgot I Had Them On, or Too Much Multi-tasking

In the midst of getting four things done before I left the house, a quick shower was in order. I remember thinking, wow the shower is really LOUD tonight. One leg in the shower and then, Oh crap, forgot to take the HA's out. No harm done, took them out and wiped a few drops of water off of them. Wife's only comment was "Are they insured or under warranty?"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

One Month and Counting, Living in Two Worlds

I was at my Dad's home in Northern Virginia this week for a long overdue visit.We spend a lot of time visiting and talking about everything in general and nothing in specific. I asked him when he realized that he noticed his hearing loss. He told me that while he was on a layover, he was sitting on the bed in his hotel room when he put his watch to his ear. He realized that he could not hear his watch ticking in his right ear and could barely hear it in his left ear. He was fitted for his first pair of hearing aids a few weeks later. He was 58 and that was in 1984. Today he is mostly deaf in his right ear and has a severe loss in his left ear. Several pairs of hearing aids later at 85 years old his hearing has continued to deteriorate. To quote my dad, "Old age is a pain in the ass". What most impressed him most about my hearing aids was the blue tooth interface. Maybe after his taxes are done a trip to Costco is in order.

Living in Two Worlds
Every night about 10:00 pm I take my hearing aids out. I clean them and put them in my Store and Dry for the night. Each time I do this, I return to a world where sounds are muffled and I am back to " Huh, What did she say?" When I wake up, my brain has adjusted to the change in audio input and the sounds I can't hear aren't as noticeable until I put my hearing aids back in. The blue tooth links up with my Blackberry and I am back in the world of the hearing. I wish I could wear my hearing aids 24 hours a day. While not perfect they are huge improvement compared to my unaided hearing.

What's That?
Most people don't see my hearing aids but they do see my Streamer around my neck. No one knows what it is. The TSA screener at the airport and security guards at several facilities didn't know what it was and asked me not to wear it. A brief explanation and pointing to my hearing aids answered their questions. It's obvious they expected the hearing aids to look different

Batteries and Domes and Dry & Store
Batteries last about 5-6 days before they die a sudden death. Changing both domes takes about 5 minutes. The Store and Dry may be overkill but it's seems like a good investment to dry and sanitize the hearing aids daily. It also provides safe storage every night at home or traveling in a place I won't forget.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Deafness in Disguise

Interesting web site on the history of hearing aids.

Makes me appreciate digital technology and zinc air batteries even more!

History of hearing aids.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Wife

My wife made a comment a couple of days ago that we were have fewer misunderstandings in our wife husband communications. It's amazing how much her speaking skills have improved in the last month.

Happy New Year's, Welcome Back to the Party

What do you get when have 500 kids screaming kids, their parents, a moon bounce, live Hula dancers, live music with drums, guitars, ukulele's and 1000 people all once talking in an unfinished store space? The Lunar New Year's celebration at the China Town Center in Austin TX yesterday. This is the day that the Chinese and other countries in Asia celebrate the new year. To say it was noisy and loud is an understatement. The good news was I was able to discriminate individual voices and even talk to my wife without shouting. Another win my for my new HA's.

The second hearing challenge of the day was a Tai Chi exhibition and attending the annual banquet of the Austin Taoist Tai Chi Society. 52 practitioners and friends celebrating the New Year and another successful year of practicing Tai Chi. My wife was on the banquet committee so I provided some free labor to help set up.

It was great to be able to talk someone across the table and have a coherent conversation while enjoying a traditional Chinese New Year’s meal. Several other folks at our table had hearing issues and we had some interesting conversations about HA's and hearing loss.

A great day all around.

Link to Austin Tai Chi organization  http://texas.usa.taoist.org/

Tai Chi is an excellent way to improve balance, flexibility and bone mass. I plan on attending the beginner’s class in April.
 Article on Tai Chi and Balance  Tai Chi and Improving Your Balance

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quiet Spaces and beautiful voices

I went to a ritual practice last night at the Round Rock Masonic Temple. The main lodge room is a large room with wall to wall carpeting, acoustical tiles and upholstered furniture. With only five of us there it was a very quiet room. In fact the quietest room I have been in since I got my HA's. I really got the chance to LISTEN. I thought I knew the voices of my friends quite well. Their deep male voices they sounded richer and fuller. Masonic ritual includes several long lectures and ritual dialogs. The spoken word can be beautiful to listen to and savor if you can.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I was talking to someone a few days ago that I have known all my life about my new hearing aids and what a difference they have made. His response was "I know I can't hear other people and really don't give a damm. I am not that interested in what they have to say." I wonder if he realizes what he can't hear and how much he is missing. Only time will tell.

Dogs and Hearing Aids

Tonight I was sitting in Barnes & Noble drinking a cup of tea and I realized that I could hear five conversations at the tables surrounding me. I thought about what has happened to me and those closest to me during the last month. In addition to my new hearing aids we have adopted a fourth rescue dog. Rocky is a 4 month old Catahoula pup that someone left on the side of the road in Rockdale TX. No comment about the sort of heartless SOB that could do this to a dog. At any rate, a cohort of mine at FedEx picked him up, took him home and asked to keep him over the Christmas holiday while she was traveling. Rocky has never left our house. He does have a new red collar and neuter job so he is here to stay along with Hunter, Cricket and Ginger.

So what do dogs and hearing aids have in common? I recently read that people and dogs are attracted to each other because we are both social species. Dogs and people need social interaction. Speech and hearing are both a critical component to this interaction. I realized a couple of months ago that was sitting in rooms full of people and not talking to anyone. I understand now that I am social critter and enjoy the company of my friends and brothers in the various masonic organizations, my team mates and customers at FedEx as well as the companionship of my wife. My hearing aids make this interaction much more effective and enjoyable.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I have had some conversations like this, just don't know whether I was first, second or third. 
Three old guys are out walking.
First one says, "Windy, isn't it?"
Second one says, "No, it's Thursday!"
Third one says, "So am I. Let's go get a beer."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Uncle Ernie

My Uncle Ernie was the first person I can remember that wore a hearing aid. This photo was taken in 1961 when I was in first grade and he was about 75 years old. You can see the ear piece in his left ear. One of my favorite great uncles and a real softy for kids and dogs.

Two Weeks Later and My Hearing is Much Improved

Very happy with the HA's and so is my wife. The HA's are time, effort and money well spent. No regrets about buying the best HA's I can afford.

I had appointment with Penny this morning and learned some more.

I live and work in a noisy world, about 60-70dB on average. Some places are really noisy in excess of 100 dB. I am wearing the HA's 12 hours a day. I don't spend a lot of time in quiet environments.

The hearing aids (HA's) are doing their job and my brain is learning to adapt to the new sounds a lot quicker than I would. I don't even notice that I have them on a majority of the time. I am impressed how well the HA's work.
A few more things I have learned in the last two weeks........

No one notices my hearing aids . They are invisible unless you are looking for them. Some other folks with HA's notice them but that's about it. The Streamer that I wear around my neck looks like an iPod or MP3 player.

A couple of my friends noticed the change in my hearing and asked what happened.

When I take the HA's out it's like stuffing my ears with cotton or wearing ear plugs. Sounds are flat and muffled and muted. Not too exciting, yet this is what my hearing has been like for years and I learned to live with it.

When I listen carefully, I can hear and understand how the HA's compensate for the high frequencies I can't hear. Some sounds like garage door openers, toilets flushing and machinery are loud and sharp. But these noises occur at the same frequencies that are used to pronounce the soft consonant sounds that make it easier for me to understand what's being said to me in a conversation. I'll take the amplified sounds along with the amplified consonants rather than neither which is the choice I have.

My tinnitus is much less noticeable with the HA's. It's still there but it's masked by everything else I can hear now. I notice it now when I take the HA's out before when I go to sleep.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Itching and Sore Ears, Easy Fix, Wally to the Rescue

My ears were sore for a couple of days when I started wearing the HA's. I talked to a local herbalist who recommended using Wally's Ear Oil. She was right, the Ear Oil did the trick, just followed the directions on the bottle and used a few drops at night after I took the HA's out. No more sore ears and it smells good. 
Web site for Wally's

Friday, February 5, 2010

One Week and a Day, life is better

I have been wearing the hearing aids and using the Streamer for one week and a day. The hearing aids are a huge improvement compared to my unassisted hearing. Sounds are very flat and muted, also my tinnitus is much more noticeable without the hearing aids. I am very impressed with the XW's and the quality of the sound. Nothing sounds tinny or artificial.

The Streamer is great in relatively quiet places. I use it several hours a day and only resort to using the handset on the Blackberry while I am driving.  One neat trick I learned was that the voice dialing, and recall the last number functions on my Blackberry work well with the Streamer. I use my Sansa MP3 Player with the Streamer with OK results. I think the speakers in the HA's are too small to reproduce the bass adequately for music. I do like like listening to E-Books on the Sansa using the Streamer

My wife says that she noticed the difference in the first few days. I have been turning the volume down on every thing. I never knew how loud TV commercials were. I also noticed all sorts of beeps and chirps that our gadgets and household appliances make that I didn't notice before.

Starbucks and other eateries require me to tun the volume down two or three clicks to keep the noise tolerable. Same thing in the Subaru.

Do my hearing aids increase my enjoyment of daily life? Yes
Do they improve my communications? yes, every time I speak to someone or listen to someone else.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Noisiest Places

The noisiest places I have been with my hearing aids;

1. My Subaru Forester at 65mph in a thunderstorm, volume down 2 notches

2. The laminate flooring factory in Temple TX. HA's off and ears plugs in

3. Most Restaurants, I'd rather eat in the car or preferably at home!

Noisy Restaurants

Link to article in Wall Street Journal on noisy resturaunts

WSJ Noisy Restaurants

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Other Parts of My Hearing Test

One set of test results concerned me more than some others was the Speech Test. What is a Speech Test?

from web page posted by Dayton Ear Nose and Throat  Dayton Ear Nose and Throat web page

During speech discrimination testing the audiologist typically will present monosyllabic words in a quiet environment. However, to gain more insight into how well an individual understands speech in conditions that are similar to everyday situations, monosyllabic words may be presented in the presence of competing noise, cafeteria noise, or multi-speaker babble. The presentation of speech in competing noise is a more realistic approximation of typical communication functioning.
The discrimination score is a representation of how well an individual will do with hearing aids. Those with good or excellent scores are expected to do extremely well with hearing aids and will hear very much like an individual who has normal hearing. Individuals with poor discrimination scores are expected to still have some difficulties even with hearing aids. However, their ability to understand conversation with hearing aids is expected to be much better than without hearing aids.

Speech Discrimination Scores

Correct interpretation:
  • 100%-90% Excellent understanding of speech
  • 89%-90% Good understanding of speech
  • 79%-70% Fair understanding of speech
  • 69%-60% Poor understanding of speech
  • 59%-50% Markedly reduced understanding of speech
My test scores are;
80% in the right ear which is Fair
68% in the left ear which is Poor

This is pretty accurate picture of my experiences listening to other people. My new hearing aids and Streamer using Blue Tooth have made a significant improvement in how well I can understand what is being said to me. I use lots of numbers and a lot of computer terms in my conversations at work and on the phone with customers, peers and tech support. I have learned the hard way to repeat back what has been said to me and use the phonetic alphabet to spell certain words and phrases.

What's a Phonetic Alphabet?

The SRT Score

Speech audiometry includes determining speech reception threshold (SRT) and testing of word recognition . Speech reception threshold testing determines the faintest level at which a person can hear and correctly repeat easy-to-distinguish two-syllable (spondaic) words. Examples of spondaic words are "baseball," "ice cream," "hot dog," "outside," and "airplane." Spondaic words have equal stress on each syllable. The individual repeats words (or points to pictures) as the audiologist's voice gets softer and softer. The faintest level, in decibels, at which 50% of the two-syllable words are correctly identified, is recorded as the Speech Reception Threshold (SRT). A separate SRT is determined for each ear.
Tests of word recognition attempt to evaluate how well a person can distinguish words at a comfortable loudness level. It relates to how clearly one can hear single-syllable (monosyllabic) words when speech is comfortably loud. Examples of words used in this test are "come," "high," "knees," and "chew." In this test, the audiologist's voice (or a recording) stays at the same loudness level throughout. The individual being tested repeats words (or points to pictures). The percentage of words correctly repeated is recorded for each ear.
Thus, a score of 100% would indicate that every word was repeated correctly. A score of 0% would suggest no understanding.
Word recognition is typically measured in quiet. For specific purposes, word recognition may also be measured in the presence of recorded background noise that can also be delivered through the audiometer.

My SRT scores were 30 for right ear and 35 in left ear. In brief I have a very hard time distinguishing words.

Bluetooth and the XW's

The Oticon Streamer links my Blackberry with the hearing aids. The advantage is that I hear the conversation in both ears. The link works well except in noisy places. No surprise since noisy environments are a bit of challenge for the hearing aids. I don't need the TV or phone adapter for the Streamer. The volume and quality are fine as is. The neck loop is also the antenna.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Went to a movie

Went to see Edge of Darkness Mel Gibson today and the sound was a whole new experience. First time I used the second program on the HA's that boosts the entire frequency spectrum. Most enjoyable movie in a long time.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What My Audiogram Looks Like

The Red and Blue lines are my latest audiogram. The shaded area is the hearing banana, which is the frequencies used in speech. It's shows why I have a hard time hearing soft consonants such as f,s, th which are in the 2000-6000hz range.

Great web site for understanding Hearing and Hearing Tests

Take the Piano thud test! What's the highest frequency you properly hear?

A Interesting Link from the Hearing Aid Forum

Piano Thud Test

Training the Brain

Wearing these new Hearing Aids requires my brain to learn how to pay attention to some sounds and disregard others all over again. The first day, every sound was front and center, bright and clear. After four days I realize that I am now discriminating some sounds. I still can't believe how much better everything sounds. I have to turn the volume down on everything including my Blackberry, the radio in the Subaru and the TV.

The Hearing Aids have a default volume. The background noise in some places like restaurants is too high for default volume (2 chirps) so I turn it down a couple of chirps and the noise is lot more tolerable.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day One, WOW

Penny, the audiologist fitted my first hearing aids this morning at 0900. The hearing aids are very light, easy to wear and just about invisible. Cool! Love the design and quality construction.

We paired my Blackberry with the Streamer. The Streamer is a Blue Tooth interface, microphone and remote for the hearing aids. Reviewed the maintenance, paper work, warranty and completed the checklist. Bill paid and now for the rest of the day.

Returned several voice mails and phone calls using the Streamer and Blackberry. I really like hearing the caller in phone calls in both ears. Much easier to understand. My wife's voice is fantastic!

I heard the turn indicator relay my Subaru for the first time after driving the Forester for more than a year. The door chime is LOUD. The car makes lots of noises I don't remember hearing before.

Next stop, meeting with a customer and FedEx account exec. Didn't miss a word in our one hour meeting. No one had to repeat anything.

As usual I had 4 phone calls during lunch. Easier to hear the phone with Streamer off in noisy places. I am beginning to understand the limitations of the firmware sorting out noise from voices. Had to turn the volume down a notch or two.

Another hearing challenge at Starbucks working on the laptop. Easier to hear in Starbucks than at lunch. Fewer voices and racket to sort out.

I used my laptop to charge the Streamer while I was working on an integration this afternoon.

Sounds I heard again today for the first time;

Birds chirping
Zippers and clothes rustling
Everyone's voice sounds different
the key clicks on my laptop keyboard
Wind and soft rain
Sounds are really bright and sharp
Tinnitus is much less noticeable

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What Happened to My Hearing?

Growing up I had many relatives who suffered hearing losses.

One of my favorite uncles was Uncle Ernie, who was the Chief Engineer on the Gulf Queen oil tanker through WWI and WWII. By the time I came along in 50's and 60's he was wearing a hearing aid around his neck with an ear phone one ear. He was dammned near stone deaf from spending years in a ships engine room.

My moms father was a boiler maker and welder for a railroad company. He was also hard of hearing all of my life.

My father, a WWII naval aviator and retired airline pilot wears hearing aids and is almost deaf in one ear. Too many hours around aircraft engines and very noisy cockpits. He once told  me "No one was too concerned in WWII about what happens to your hearing when you sit less than six feet from six 50 caliber machine guns. Not to mention the engine sitting a few feet in front of you. We had a war to fight"

One of my brothers who is an airline pilot is also hard of hearing.

Another brother also has hearing problems although he won't admit it.

My nephew told me that listening and watching my brother and I trying to talk to each other in the boat was pretty funny. We were both shouting at each other! That comment really made me think. I realized that at 55 years old I am just like my father, grandfather and uncle.

I lost a my high frequency hearing due to exposure to loud noises. I can pass on a few lessons learned the hard way.

If you are a shooter, wear plugs and muffs. I have been an avid shooter all of my life. 45 years ago, we knew a lost less about hearing protection.

If you are working in the shop or mowing the yard wear hearing protection.


Once the hearing is gone you can't get it back

Which Hearing Aids Did I Buy?

I have learned that no hearing aid is going to restore my hearing. It's not like buying glasses and having 20/20 corrected vision. The best they can do is help me hear the soft consonants that I can't hear now that sometimes drives me crazy and results in lots of screwed up conversations.

I am a tech head and  love gadgets. I read and browse the Internet daily to keep with the technology I use on the job, my hobbies and now hearing aids. I have spent several days browsing articles and web pages to educate myself about hearing aids and hearing loss.

"TANSTAAFL" There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Austin Diagnostic Clinic did not have the least expensive hearing aids for sale but they do recommend some the best. What I was buying in addition to the hearing aid hardware was the services and experience of the audiologist and an Audiology department. In addition, the price included a Streamer Blue Tooth and Remote Control for which other providers charged extra.  And, cash flow was better since they bill the insurance company for its share.

Penny, my audiologist at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic (ADC) provided me with the most in depth and accurate information about the choices that I had to make concerning what hearing hearing aid would help me the most.

Getting useful and objective information on Hearing Aids turned out to be a real challenge. There are thousands of web pages and other resources on the internet that offer some useful information. A lot of it is advertisement. What I did find was user manuals, videos and other useful stuff on hearing aids I was interested in. Some of the magazines for Hearing Aid providers have some neat articles on-line. Some of the articles are very technical so I had to Google lots of terms. 

The most useful on-line resource I have found is the Hearing Aid Forums. If you have questions and want to read comments and discucssions from other folks about hearing loss and hearing aids check out this forum. I highly recommend it.

I read  "The Consumer Handbook on Hearing Loss & Hearing Aids" edited by Richard Carmen, worth reading, ISBN 9780966182682. You might be able to get a free copy from your audiologist. The companion web site is www.hearingproblems.com

The 2010 Consumers Guide to Hearing Aids published by the James Wilson Group Strategic Solutions for features and listings of hearing aids. Great resource if you like comparing features and stats. Very useful glossary of Hearing Aid Industry buzz words in the back.

Consumer Reports also had reviews of some hearing aids last Summer. Typical CR report.

After talking to Penny, I decided  to try a pair of Auticon Dual WX Hearing Aids. These are high end Hearing Aids that have a decent reputation and some pretty neat technology. After insurance the hearing aids will cost me about $1300 after the FedEx Health Insurance contributed $5000.00. I am going to be wearing the hearing aids 16 hours a day, every day of the the rest of my life.  Some quick number crunching revealed that the difference between adequate and the premium hearing aids is about $1 a day over the expected life of the hearing aids. It's worth it to me.

Oticon Dual XW link on Oticon web site

Coping with a wide variety of environments  including very noisy loading docks, server rooms lots of time on the phone made the choices a bit tougher.  Blue Tooth is a necessity for me because my Blackberry is my link to customers and FedEx and I use it about 14 hours a day according to my wife.

So Far So Good

The Audiologist at the Austin Diagnostic Center Audiology department has been great. Penny, the Audiologist is very competent, pleasant and very familiar with the hearing aids that she supports. We spent over an hour reviewing my hearing issues what technology is available from the hearing aid manufacturers.

She gets 5 stars from me.

No issues with the insurance company either. FedEx  health insurance pays $5000 of the cost of the hearing aids. I pay the rest, not a bad deal.

What I Hope to Hear Again

The turn indicators in my Subaru.

Little girls talking and laughing.

My friends talking to me across the table.

The Hearing Test

I got my hearing tested on January 13, 2010 for the first time in three years at the  Austin Diagnostic Center Audiology Department.

I wasn't surprised at the results. The difference was that my hearing loss from 500hz to 8000hz was now moderate to severe. How to Read Your Audiogram . My audiogram looks like ski slope all downhill from 500Hz.  This is typical of someone like me who has been exposed to too much loud noise.

Penny, the audiologist recommended seeing an Ear Nose and Throat specialist first. No sweat, 2 days later and another hour spent at Austin Diagnostic Center another confirmation that I needed help with my hearing.

I Have a Hearing Loss

I am a 55 year old American male and one of millions of baby boomers who are hard of hearing. The only difference between me and most of my peers is that I have decided to do something my hearing loss.


1. I constantly misunderstand people when I am talking to face to face and on the Blackberry cell phone. The biggest and sometimes most difficult part of my job at FedEx is communicating with my peers, managers, techs, sales people, and customers.

2. I noticed a few months ago that I had the Blackberry ringer set to LOUD and the volume maxed out and I was unable to clearly understand people I was listening to. I missed calls because I can't hear the phone ring. Blue tooth headsets help but not enough.

3. I know I have a high frequency hearing loss from several years of hearing tests. My hearing has been deteriorating for several years.

4. I constantly ask my wife "What did he/she say" watching TV.

5. Forget about understanding the 17 year old waitress in the restaurant who taking my order and telling me about the special of the day. Especially if she is talking too fast and has an accent. I order from the menu.

6. I realized that I am opting out of conversations at social events because I can't hear.

7. My hearing problems result in a lot of misunderstandings with my wife.  Okay, they were pointless arguments for which I was responsible.

8. My Tinnitus is getting worse. I can't remember when I haven't had ringing in my ears. The last couple of years it has gotten so loud that it wakes me up. The Ear Nose and Throat specialist told me that it's my body compensating for the lack of auditory input in the frequency ranges I can no longer hear. The hearing aids won't make it go away but hopefully make less bothersome.

Tinnitus Article