Back in August, I went to an ENT about worsening tinnitus. They did a hearing test and the ENT described it as “significant” hearing loss and thought that I would benefit from hearing aids. I’m 47 and have never noticed any loss though there have been a few things that concerned me (harder time understanding dialog on TV/movies, sometimes difficulty understanding conversation). This was still surprising to me but I decided to go ahead and get hearing aids. Since all of this was new to me, I had no clue what I was getting into.
Now the problem is that I don’t think the audiologist that I’m seeing is right for me. This is at a hearing center in the ENT office. For my first visit with this audiologist, I had to fill out a form with what was most important to me in a hearing aid–it’s a little hard to have much insight having never worn hearing aids and not even knowing anybody who does. When I met the audiologist, she put a pair of hearing aids on me first thing and we talked about technology tiers and pricing which took about an hour. She didn’t really make any recommendations or offer much insight other than I might not need the highest tier aids with my level of loss. I ended up choosing the penultimate tier but there was no discussion of specific brands. Went back the next week for the fitting. She had chosen the Widex Moment 330 and put them in with medium domes. She ran the feedback program (I believe) and then did a hearing test through the HAs (while there was a lot of noise from people walking in the hallway just outside the door). Then we sat and talked for a while as she asked me how things sounded and did some tweaking. I was annoyed by “static” which turned out to be my hair rubbing the microphone (which I had to figure out on my own later that day). She changed out domes to the large ones because I thought those sounded better. It is really hard to tell about how they sound in a strange place and a room with high ceilings, laminate floors, plexiglass between me and her, and no real sound deadening material.
When I went to work the next day, the frustration set in. There are long hallways and a lot of glass with no carpet where I work and so there was a fair bit of echoing. There is also a constant white noise from the HVAC system which now sounded muffled. This was all a bit disconcerting to me since I was used to the way everything sounded having worked in this building for 21 years. I complained about all of this at my first follow-up 2 weeks later. I mentioned that the large domes seemed to be working themselves out of my ear canals and when that happened, the muffled quality of sound got worse. I told her if I pushed them as far as I could until they would just start to hurt a bit, the sound was very clear. Her suggestion: don’t keep pushing them in. :eyeroll: She tweaked some stuff and asked me how things sounded. In that room, I thought it was better. I asked about PureSound and she turned that on for me even though I’m out of the range for it per Widex. HVAC was still muffled at work and the echoing was still there. All of this made it hard to understand people at work, which I’ve never really had much of an issue with. At the second follow-up I again complained about these things. She tweaked some more and set up another appointment which fell outside the trial period. This was on a Wednesday and by Friday I was ready to take them back for good. However, after the weekend, they seemed to be much better though there was a constant hiss in a quiet environment which was new. So I called and got another appointment before my trial was over. She described the hiss as “electrical noise”. I tried to explain that this wasn’t constant and that I could hear the hiss kick in after sound stopped, I assume due to them amping up the gain automatically. She did lower the high frequencies a little which has mostly fixed the hiss. And for the first couple of days everything seemed good and then one morning when I put them in, everything seemed more muffled than the day before. I don’t really understand that. I had mentioned it to the audiologist and she chalked it up to something wrong with my ears such as stuffiness which doesn’t seem correct to me.
In the meantime, I’ve been researching all about this. I found Dr. Cliff’s videos and this forum which have me questioning the quality of care I’m getting. I made an appointment with another audiologist from Dr. Cliff’s list and went and saw her. This second audi said with my complaints she would recommend the 440s due to better performance in noisy environments and more frequencies to adjust. She also said that I might benefit from trying a different brand. She said she was disappointed that the ENT didn’t do a speech in noise test. She does do REM (which has never been mentioned at the place I’ve been going to) and she seemed passionate about helping and all the reviews I’ve found have been great. I think I want to switch to her. The main issue is cost/insurance. I’m not sure that I would be able to return the 330s and start over with a new audi by the end of the year. And her pricing was more expensive and seemed to come with less perks (cleaning visits etc). I could keep the 330s and then go to the second audi for programming though I would have to pay for that. And I’m not sure if keeping the 330s is the best idea. I did ask my current audi about upgrading to the 440s with the thought that at least I would have the best and I could still go to the second audi for programming, but current audi said the 440s wouldn’t help with my level of loss.
I assume that some of what I’m experiencing is just the normal process of getting used to HAs but not sure if that is all of it or if they just aren’t programmed correctly. It’s very frustrating to have to drive an hour to the ENT office for tweaking them and not really being able to tell if it helped or not until the next day and then having to wait for a couple of weeks to try again.