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In this weekly column, Audicus audiologist Dr. Tammy Flodmand will answer questions submitted online about anything hearing aid related. Read on and submit questions to [email protected].

Note From Tammy on Hearing Aids and Hearing Loss:

There is a tremendous amount of information out there about hearing aids and hearing loss. It can be overwhelming at times to figure out what to believe. I am starting this column to help you all to muddle through the information out there.

I see many recurring themes in the clinic… wives telling their husbands they aren’t listening, husbands upset that their wives mumble, kids frustrated with their parents. Many times the frustration level is considerable by the time people get to their audiologist for a hearing test. Hearing tests are quick and easy and will give you a good starting point.

Starting Point with Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

Q:  I am forever yelling at my husband and repeating myself. It’s so frustrating! I know he has hearing loss but we don’t even know where to start! HELP!   ~Sarah in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

A:  The first thing to do if you have any concerns about your hearing is to have it tested. Sometimes hearing loss is just due to wax build-up. Other times though it is something more permanent that can only be helped with hearing aids. Once your hearing is tested you will be told if you are a candidate for hearing aids.

High Frequency Hearing Loss and Understanding in Background Noise

Q:   When we go to dinner with our best friends I just smile and nod my head because I can’t hear any of the conversation. The other day I inappropriately answered the waitress because I didn’t know what she asked. . . everyone had a good laugh but I was embarrassed. I hear some people just fine though. What is going on?   ~Lowell in Bloomington, Indiana

A:  It sounds like you might have high-frequency hearing loss. High frequency hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss where you lose your high pitches first (think of women’s voices, alarms, bells, flutes, etc.) Unfortunately, many of the speech sounds that provide the beauty and clarity of speech fall in this high frequency range making speech understanding very difficult especially in the presence of background noise.  In a quiet environment we are able to use our eyes (lip reading) to assist with hearing. However, when there is background noise present it is much more difficult even with the facial cues. You should definitely have your hearing tested to see where you stand and to see if hearing aids would be of benefit to you!

Understanding Speech with Hearing Loss

Q:  Everyone around me mumbles. My children keep telling me that I need hearing aids but I just need them and the grandkids to speak more clearly. Can you tell them it’s not me? ~ Edward in San Luis Obispo, California

A:  Sorry to break it to you, Edward, but it just might be you! Feeling like everyone around you is mumbling is one of the first signs of hearing loss. When your ears are unable to pick up on certain speech sounds your brain will try to fill in the blanks, so to speak. If your brain gets it correct then you are good to go but if your brain fills in the blank with the wrong speech sound you will hear the wrong word (wife instead of life, made instead of aid, etc) OR you will hear what sounds like mumbling. The only way to really know is to get you hearing tested.  That will tell you if it is them or if it is your hearing and then recommendations can be made!

Have a question? Email Dr. Flodmand at [email protected]!

by Tammy Flodmand