Hello all, newcomer/lurker here. Last fall, I suffered a sudden and almost total hearing loss in my right ear, and it’s been quite a journey since then. I’ve seen an ENT, two audiologists, and two hearing aid specialists, and am on my second set of hearing aids. I posted the results of the five audiograms I’ve had since last November. I’ve also had an MRI to rule out acoustic neuroma.
I’ve read through much of this forum, and learned so much about all aspects of my problem and possible solutions. I wanted to thank you all for helping me along the way. And I thought I’d share my story in case it might help someone else. Because it’s a bit long and detailed, I’ll use point style to hopefully make it a bit easier to read.
Nov 9, 2021, woke up with near-total hearing loss in right ear. Thought it was maybe ear wax or a sinus infection, thought I’d wait a few days to see if it cleared up. It didn’t, and I called my doctor.
Nov 18, saw GP, she recommended a hearing test.
Nov 23, hearing test with audiologist at Costco. Due to reverse cookie bite mild to severe loss on R side, he recommended follow up with GP for referral to specialist.
Dec 1, saw GP, she had already received audiogram from Costco and sent request for referral to ENT.
Dec 9, appointment with ENT (very quick timing; he made room in his schedule due to pattern and suddenness of hearing loss). As it had been four weeks since the hearing loss, the ENT recommended aggressive treatment with oral steroids PLUS a series of steroid injections in the ear (eek!!!). Treatment started immediately, three injections over the following week plus 11 days of prednisone. He also referred me for an MRI to rule out neuroma. Scheduled for June 26, 2022.
Dec 15, follow up with ENT after treatments, had audiogram done, changes not sufficient to continue steroid treatments. Recommended hearing aids. Said it would be OK to wait until I turned 65 in February as our provincial government pays a good portion of the cost after that age.
Feb 25, at suggestion of ENT, had another audiogram at Costco before ordering hearing aids. Not much different from previous results.
Mar 14, received KS10 hearing aids from Costco. Huge improvement, first time hearing anything in R ear in three months. Also improvement in L ear, though I hadn’t noticed hearing loss there before.
Unfortunately, the improvement in R ear lasted only two to three weeks, then started fading. I returned to Costco several times over the following few weeks, having the HAs checked and adjusted by audiologist and hearing aid specialist, also cleaned and receivers/wires/domes replaced by staff a few times. By early May, R hearing aid was causing more problems, constant reverb, almost no hearing correction at this point. Requested appointment with ENT as I suspected the problem was with my ear, not the aid. ENT asked if I would get another audiogram at Costco in the meantime.
May 2, audiogram at Costco showed drastic drop in WRS in R ear, to 16% from 80% only two months previous. Little to no change in L ear.
May 6, saw ENT. Surprised at the change in R ear, suggested one more injection and a week of oral steriods as a last resort.
May 26, follow up with ENT, had audiogram done. Left ear good, right ear WRS at 28%. He said further steroid treatments would not help, loss in R ear likely permanent, suggested bi cros aids.
June 2, saw audiologist at Costco. They do not supply bi cros hearing aids. Returned the KS10 hearing aids for full refund. Researched the different brands of bi cros aids and liked the features and quality of the Phonak cros system. I found a local private clinic that carried these.
June 6, saw hearing aid specialist at the private clinic. No new audiogram done as I gave her copies of previous ones. She suggested the rechargeable Phonak system, CROS in the right ear and P90 in the left, with a 90 day trial/return period.
June 14, received my new hearing aids. Spent about 90 minutes with the HAS explaining, demonstrating, fitting, programming. Was thrilled to hear voices and sounds originating on my right side, even though the sound actually came into my left ear.
Not much adjustment period or learning curve as I had worn the KS10s for over two months. But I’m still getting used to the “directional” issue, hearing the sound in my left ear when it is coming through the CROS on the right. I find this more of a curiosity than a problem, and I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I’m just so happy to be able to hear sounds from all directions again.
Also happy with the P90 on the left (pretty much the same as the KS10). Clear sound, understand voices, TV mostly good. At our follow-up appointment, the HAS showed me on her computer where the built-in programs had kicked in automatically over the previous two weeks. I never notice them switch around, my only problem is with voices in a very noisy and crowded room. I will address this with her at our next follow up.
The big downside with the bi cros system, as others have mentioned, is the short rechargeable battery life. One day when I had social engagements throughout the day, with many people and much noise and talking, I got the “10 minute” warning after only 9.5 hours. The HAS explained that when the automatic programs kick in (speech enhancer, noise cancelling, etc.)—which they would have a lot that day—they use up more battery power. Also of course the cros is streaming constantly.
I have paired to Bluetooth but mostly turn it off to conserve battery time. I don’t use the phone much so just use it the old fashioned way, without Bluetoothing through my hearing aids. I’m also happy to listen to music and TV direct from source, without Bluetooth. This seems to make a difference, so the batteries generally get me through to bedtime. I usually re-charge for a half hour or so in the middle of the day.
All in all, not a fun journey, but I am so grateful for the medical assistance, testing, specialists, and especially the hearing aid technology available to me. I am also grateful for this forum. I found it early on and have learned so much from all of you. I would be more than happy to answer any questions, and of course to receive any tips or suggestions.
I should also mention I’ve had tinnitus in my right ear for over 15 years. Before I retired three years ago, I was an editor, spending many hours each day reading on paper and on the computer. Also too many long meetings and a lot of stress and pressure, all of which made the tinnitus worse.
At times over the last few months of hearing loss, the tinnitus got much worse, both with and without the Costco hearing aids in. However, since I’ve been wearing the bi cros, the ringing, although constant, has been faint and almost unnoticeable. I have no idea why, possibly less stress as this whole issue has been resolved as best it can.
Summary of my audiograms
11/23/2021 With Costco. Left: sloping normal to severe loss, WRS 96% Right: reverse cookie bite, mild to severe loss, WRS 80%
12/15/2021 With ENT following steroid treatments. Similar pattern; slight improvement in WRS: L 100%, R 96%
2/25/2022 With Costco at request of ENT, before ordering hearing aids. Similar pattern; slight loss in WRS: L 96%, R 80%
5/2/2022 With Costco, prior to appt with ENT, due to further hearing loss in R ear. Almost no change in L ear. Slight drop in hearing on the R (“reverse cookie bite” pattern levelled out), but large drop in WRS, from 80% to 16%
5/26/2022 With ENT to double check/confirm Costco results. WRS on right shows at 28%, otherwise pretty much the same as Costco. Recommends bi cros aids.
PS, I had the MRI on June 26. From my layperson’s reading of the report, all is well. (“The cerebellopontine angles and internal auditory canals appear unremarkable.”) I have an appointment with the ENT next week to review the report. The MRI was mercifully SO MUCH easier than I thought it would be. I’d been told it could take 45 to 60 minutes, but it was over in only 15. I’ve never had an issue with claustrophobia but I veer near the edge of it at times. I closed my eyes before I was moved into the machine and didn’t open them until I was moved out again. This may have been more difficult if I was in there longer. I was also nervous about the noise, but it wasn’t an issue at all because of the excellent ear plugs provided. I could certainly hear the noise, but I was expecting it and it was very muffled.