If my hearing’s not that bad, why do I have so much trouble?

#1

So on a couple of my posts we’ve all commented that my audiogram isn’t that bad, and I see compared to many others, it’s not.

I went and saw my doctor today (who didn’t know about my hearing problems previously) as I need a letter for work explaining my hearing loss from a medical doctor, not an audiologist. When I showed her my audiogram and said I was getting hearing aids, she looked perplexed and said she didn’t think I needed them.

So now I’m confused. Hearing her medical opinion, I was a little taken aback. If she believes I don’t need hearing aids, why do I struggle with hearing so much? I always miss parts of sentences and ask people to repeat. I mistake word sounds like “fish” and “smith”, not being able to tell them apart, I have to ask new people to spell their names 3 times before I get it right, I miss conversation in TV shows regularly and thank modern technology for the rewind button if I think it’s an important plot point, and don’t even get me started on how I hate answering the phone for fear of not being able to understand anything at all.

How can I have all these problems but it’s not severe enough to need aids? I don’t know if the complicating fact is my tinnitus. I thought since it’s a high frequency, it shouldn’t affect speech recognition, but maybe it’s sufficiently loud enough to me to mask other sounds at any frequency? I don’t normally notice it in a noisy situation though.

If it’s not the tinnitus causing me problems, am I just being a hypochondriac about the whole listing problem?

:confused:

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#2

It’s quite possible to have a normal audiogram (you don’t) and have trouble hearing. I think it’s reasonable for you to try hearing aids. I think a little additional gain at 2000 and 3000 hz in particular could be beneficial. However, do temper expectations. They won’t work miracles.

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#3

It’s a combination of issues: namely, the lack of understanding of the problem, the complexity of your listening environment and your actual hearing loss shape.

The lack of understanding of the problem: Many professionals fail to appreciate the degree to which hearing loss ACTUALLY diminishes in sensitivity as the level on the nice ‘linear’ vertical scale goes down. Let’s put this simply - every 3dB or so is a HALVING of power. So sounds need to be more than twice the SPL to hear over one 5dB change in level. Or to extrapolate: threshold sounds audible at a very ‘mild’ loss of -24dB is actually some 250 times louder than sounds at -0dB Decibels compare power levels.
So, this means although your loss ‘isn’t that bad’ your hearing of the higher fricatives and plosives is significantly reduced without amplification - which may not bother the Dr who says it, but can be incredibly debilitating for the individual concerned.

Next: the listening environment - now I’m not suggesting you only live in cocktail parties, but here’s the thing, the low frequency speech and noise babble that’s generated by the party/coffee shop environment is a particular hazard. Primarily because it falls directly over your good zone of hearing in the lower pitches, this is further hampered by trying to listen to an individual with a higher pitched voice (more fricatives and plosives above your audibility) but without the lower pitch emphasis on certain words to make them clearer for your ears. This would be why in a traditional couple, with exactly the same loss, it’s invariably the husband that hears less of the spoken information than the wife…

And finally you loss shape - as I’ve alluded to above, the shape of the loss with the worsening higher pitches means that there’s a degradation of the higher parts of speech - but (and here’s the kicker) it doesn’t SOUND like that - after all you can still hear that bus ‘REALLY LOUD’. Most of our loudness information in respect of sounds and the stapaedal reflex responds to lower pitch high intensity sounds - which means we judge overall loudness on the bottom two pitches measured on the audiogram. Now this is ripe for feeding those ‘deniers’ (probably amongst the medical sector) who will say ‘I don’t have a loss - Many sounds are still very loud to me’ - While others, like yourself will report inordinate difficulty in hearing even well spoken hearing dispensers, when we introduce a bit of noise complexity to the signal.

It’s your call - you have evidence of your hearing loss - lots of Doctors have trouble doing basic math…

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#4

The problem here is not that of not being able to listen . Its a problem of not being able to listen each word clearly. I guess you can easily hear people speaking at normal volume without need of any amplification but the words gets mixed up because sounds are loud but words are not distinctly clear. Its like hearing a word easily but having difficulty discerning if it was Pit, Pitch, Pith or Pish etc

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#5

i also have troble to hear people in noise even slight noise disturb me. also phone/speaker i am dead. though my loss is even less than you but have low frequency loss when ever i go to ENT they tell me that i do not have much deafness but when i am going to fit HA they are unable me to hear clearly even after 10 adjustment you are not alone. also i am not covered by disablity benefit since avg 60-70 db loss is not in speech freqeuncy.
note: my response in audiogram variable though my ct scan is normal.

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#6

When your response at around the 2k level, a very important range for speech, starts to dip below the 30 decibel level, thats when many people will notice a big difference in speech comprehension, myself included. I was able to delay getting aids for a number of years until I fell below this level. Properly set up aids made a big difference for me and may for you also

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#7

Um_bongo just knocks it out of the park.

No indeed…you’re not alone. There was a young adult here a while ago saying the same things. His audiogram was practically straight across the top. But he reports hearing issues.
It’s your hearing. It’s your quality of life. Hearing assistant devices will help. You may also want to explore just the simple amplifiers called PSAP’s (Personal Sound Amplifier Products). One member here loves his Sound World Solutions product.

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#8

It’s possible you have “hidden hearing loss” which is damage to the nerve fibers beyond the cochlea, caused by exposure to loud sounds even decades before. Your audiogram can look normal since your cochlea and middle ear are not the issue. Hearing aids and a remote microphone can help.

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#9

Thank you everyone for your considered thoughts. I just hope my expectations aren’t too high about what HA can do for me.

Russell.

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#10

You’ve got good hearing loss for hearing aids, I think you’ll probably be pleased unless you are expecting them to work miracles.

Um_Bongo’s response was much kinder than my kneejerk response of “your doctor doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” My father was a doctor for decades (and excellent at his job) and when I started into audiology he said, “Oh great, you can finally explain to me what this funny upside down graph means.” It’s just not what they do.

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#11

LOL :slight_smile: That’s what I thought. If it wasn’t for work needing a “medical doctor” opinion, I wouldn’t even have gone to her.

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#12

Um_Bongo: RIGHT ON! There are many variables that work together to define one’s comprehension in a given situation.

You got the scientific explanation from Um_Bongo, but also keep in mind that the less you comprehend (for whatever reason!) the lazier your brain becomes. Over time, you will lose the ability to discriminate specific words and speech even MORE if you don’t have some amplification.

It’s like having a tweaked knee. Yes, it still works, but with a cane or crutch, you can make the journey easier. I’d say TRY the aids. Listen to yourself, and not the advice of a medical doc who is NOT inside your head, using your brain to comprehend speech the way YOU do.

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#13

Don’t tell my wife that. I’ve got her convinced the hearing loss is the reason I’m not listening to her :grin:

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#14

^^^^ Well THERE! That’s your reason! Funny how common that situation is between married people. :woman_facepalming:

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#15

My loss is similar to yours, although appears to be a bit worse in the higher frequencies and I also feel that my hearing is not THAT bad (I can hear heartbeats in my stethoscope which apparently amazes some people). However, it’s clearly bad enough that I developed a speech impediment as a child and have a lot of difficulties understanding people in noisy situations. Women with high voices? Forget it. I just smile and nod. I’ve had special ed teachers (acquaintances of mine) point out that I lip read. Since I have 3 very young kids with squeaky voices, I get very frustrated being unable to understand them even in quiet environments, so I’ve finally opted to get hearing aids.

All of this is to say only you can decide if hearing aids are beneficial to you. I’ve trialed a few pairs so far and it’s really amazing hearing all the things I’ve been missing almost my entire life. I’m saddened that I have missed out and wished maybe I got them as a kid, although I’ve been told that back in the 80’s, the technology wouldn’t have helped much.

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#16

Simple. Visit Costco and try a set out. If you are not happy, take them back. What could be easier?

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#17

Hi there

Hearing aids Defoe worth a go. I struggled all thro childhood into adulthood and managed get by (copious copying of notes in schools etc). My pleas of I don’t think can hear properly where ignored and Lo recent tests show have significant hearing loss. My audiograph not disimilar to yours tho at different frequencies. I now don’t have to translate Donald Duck speak into human speak as bit the bullet and now use aids. Thankfully provided by NHS. Also I’m able to go watch a movie and actually understand most of it rather than fall asleep. Ye the docs don’t know best in this specialised field so I agree with some of the responses you have. You defo havesone liss of hearing and it impacts greatly on how we perceive things in differing situations so I’d go for it and push the medics
Good luck and kind regards

Julia :heart_eyes_cat::paw_prints::paw_prints::paw_prints:

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#18

Thanks for sharing your story Julia. Luckily I’m at that stage of my life where I get to make most of my decisions regardless of what others think.

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#19

My hearing profile is comparable to yours. I have HA a couple of Months now. My ENT’s advice was to not to wait too long, as early on it’s easier for your brains to adjust. I must say that not all of my hearing problems are solved. In noisy environments it is still a challenge. I’m wearing the aids all waking hours, and I feel very comfortable with them. So yes, I’m happy with them.

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#20

You’re not alone, I was accused of ignoring people and deafness. I had big issues when on the phone. Have had to look people in the eye to hear them. Got hearing aids 7 years ago and have been so happy I did. My loss isn’t that bad compared to some folks. But, now I go blind without my hearing aids. I feel the loss without them. I just got new ones this summer, so now I have a backup pair. Good luck to you.

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