I have conductive loss and had a stapedectomy about 30 years ago in one ear, and have left the other ear untreated. Over the years, I’ve always had excellent word discrimination scores, like routinely 100% in both ears. Three years ago, it was 96 (70db) in the right ear and 92 (103db) in the left.
I got a Costco hearing test the other day, and the hearing loss was about the same as my last one. However, my WRS was 92 (65db) for my right ear (which is fine), but 72 (100db) for my left (untreated) ear. And when taking the test I could tell I was struggling.
I’ve heard all these warnings about how we need to wear our hearing aids regularly or our brain will “forget” how to hear. Could this WRS decline be a result of that? Ever since I first started using them, I’ve almost never worn them at home, but before Covid, that still meant I was wearing them at least every other day–I’d always use them when socializing, for example.
But with Covid, I went months without wearing them. And even now, the only time I wear them is when I go to the movies, or sometimes I wear them when I go to yoga and want to hear what the instructor is saying, or when I infrequently get together with friends. Basically, I use them only on an as-needed basis.
I do okay when using my hearing aids, and don’t have to adjust to them, like when you first get them and everything seems too loud. So I assumed that I wasn’t being affected by not wearing them, but this WRS has me wondering.
However, it was a fairly fraught hearing test. I think the girl wasn’t very experienced, and it’s been my impression that people at Costco don’t necessarily have experience with serious hearing loss (although I’ve had two VERY proficient Costo audiologists, so I know it’s a crapshoot). During the test, she had trouble getting the inserts in, she couldn’t get the bone conduction thingy to sit right and said she’d hurry before it started sliding again, and it took a LONG time for things to happen when she’d do something like say, “I’m going to play some wind noise.” It just didn’t seem very polished, which makes me question the technique.
Also, at one point she played a tone so loud that I literally jumped and said, “Oh god!” I have never had that happen in 35 years of hearing tests. And five or six other times, it was loud enough that I winced and said “Ow” or the like. Which makes me wonder if she was doing that part of the test correctly, whatever that means.
Plus, she talked very softly, which also points to inexperience, to me. FWIW, she was a hearing aid specialist and not an audiologist.
So I guess I’m asking if a decreased WRS is a symptom of the warnings about not using hearing aids regularly. And whether it is or not, what other symptoms are there? I’ve never really understood what they’re talking about.
I’m also wondering if the WRS part of the test can be poorly administered, resulting in a bogus result.