New here and new to the possibility of HAs

#1

As my title indicates, I’m new to these forums, as well as to the world of HAs. Hopefully, this was the correct place to make this first/introductory post.

Some background:

In July 2004, I awoke with vertigo, which had subsided by noon…this was the first time I had ever experienced vertigo. In December 2007, I awoke with vertigo again which lasted all day and was still there the following morning when I awoke (no other episodes since then, thank goodness!). The vertigo resolved after a trip to the ER, but left me with tinnitus in my right ear and difficulty hearing from that ear, which I attributed to having that constant ringing to which I was listening.

Toward the end of last month, I happened to have my hearing tested (very simple test) by a mobile unit of a local clinic. I was shocked when I was told I had severe hearing loss in my right ear and it was most likely not due to the tinnitus. The HIS then talked to me about getting a better test done at the clinic and then they could work on setting me up with Audibel HAs (it seems this is the only brand they provide).

I searched the internet for some info and reviews for Audibel and most of the reviews I found were negative…out of 45 or so reviews, only 2 were positive. That made me very concerned about getting this particular brand, even if the clinic could get them for me for little to no charge (something the HIS said might be possible).

Two days ago, 12/1, I had a hearing test at Costco (I’ve been lurking for a bit before I registered here :)) and was told that with such an extreme difference in the result of both ears, it would be best to see an ENT or Audiologist prior to simply ordering HAs as it would be best to see what could be causing the tinnitus and treat that first to see if that helps anything. Unfortunately, seeing a specialist is something I most likely cannot afford (self-employed without insurance as it is extremely unaffordable to have it AND pay for my share of any/all medical costs and I gross too much to qualify for assistance programs…sigh). In order to try to help me be seen by a specialist and be able to afford it, the HIS provided some suggestions of places that might be able to help…I still need to contact them to see what, if anything, they would be able to do to help me.

So, one of my questions is, would it really be necessary for me to see a specialist before being prescribed and using HAs?

Does anyone have any experience with Audibel? Is it really as bad as the reviews I’ve seen or could it just be a very small percentage of users who had difficulties and the majority of users love them?

Looking at my test results, what advice or suggestions would you provide?

I feel quite lost with all of this. I’m almost thinking I should just keep going without any HAs, as I have been for the past 8 years…I hear fine out of my left ear and I just make sure when I’m chatting with my daughter or grandkids that they are on my left…LOL!

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#2

Well, it is likely that you had Meniere’s or such. (I’m not a doctor) I had it and the results are much like yours. At the time, you might have had a lot of the hearing restored with steroid treatment. An ENT might still be able to do something but the odds are long.

Meniere’s is a hard to treat situation anyway. I visit an ENT and what I get is a bit of sympathy more than anything else. If the Costco audiologist is willing to let you try their aids, it is cost free if you return them within 90 days. My right hearing is much like yours and my left much worse. I need aids and they still don’t do everything for me as my word recognition is also shot. With your excellent hearing in the left, you may decide that $1800 or so isn’t a benefit. But, its worth the experiment in my mind. You might settle on just an aid for the bad ear and halve the cost.

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#3

Yes, you need to be seen by an ENT to rule out other causes of your hearing loss in the right ear, some of which can be very serious.

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#4

I would definitely see an ENT. I do appreciate the problems with cost, etc. But I would really want to know what happened and why. And is the damage still happening? Can it be fixed? I would start by figuring out what it would cost to enroll in an insurance plan for one year so you can follow up on the things properly. You may be able to get an insurance plan which will pay part of the cost of hearing aids.

I’m curious – is there a gap between your air conduction and bone conduction results in the audiometry exam?

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#5

I figured it was Meniere’s…such a weird experience!

The HIS and I discussed the need for only one HA to help with cost…this will be the way I go once I have the funds.

I appreciate your suggestion of getting insurance for just a year to help with costs for this particular issue, but that really isn’t an option. With the tax credit I would be able to get, I would have to find an extra $100/mo just for the premiums (tough to do when sometimes you struggle to make it from one paycheck to the next), then I wouldn’t get any insurance help until I met the $4k+ deductible, so I’d be paying for the ENT anyway.

I have no idea what you are talking about when you refer to the air conduction and bone conduction portion of a study. All I know is I pressed that little button whenever I heard the beeps…LOL!

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#6

I had a similar experience two years ago, saw ENTs (and other mds.), was on steroids and had 3 steroid injections into my eardrum.
Basically, no one has an accurate answer; the speculation is that it was an autoimmune attack (I’m being treated for that). I waited for
a year to check into hearing aids, because my hearing in one ear fluctuated. Even with my treatments and meds (including diuretic), my left
ear hearing loss was permanent, as is the tinnitus. I still get Meniere’s attacks, but not as severe as the originals.

My reason for writing is to tell you that in spite of medical attention, my hearing was damaged. Might it have been worse without the treatments…perhaps.
I’m glad to know I don’t have a tumor. But, the fact is I’m deaf in my left ear and I am hearing better with my hearing aids. Please consider returning to Costco and try some aids. I was told that a h/a would likely not help my left ear, which has poor discrimination. I did finally go last month, and I can actually hear from my left ear. Not a pretty sound, not very clearly, but I am grateful to understand anything from that ear, as I had gone close to two years without. I can also tell the direction sound comes from, which is handy. You have nothing to lose.

250 20 45
500 20 45
1000 20 55
2000 35 55
4000 50 65
6000 65 65
8000 75 75

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#7

I have a similar hearing loss profile, not as severe at the low frequencies, but definitely an asymmetrical hearing loss. The ENT will most likely request an MRI. They will be searching for an aural neuroma (a tumor that affects the auditory nerve) in most cases. I think the incidence is about 1% of the patients with asymmetrical hearing loss will find that it is caused by an aural neuroma.

Ex-military and the VA may provide you with hearing aids. If you need to be able to hear to work, then sometimes there is an office or department of state rehabilitation that may help with the cost of the aids. The Lions Club in some areas can also assist.

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#8

Mary, your audiogram should report two sets of numbers for each ear. One set is what you hear via air conduction and the other what you hear by bone conduction.

With the bone conduction test, they strap a gadget tight against the bone behind your ear. Its vibrations send sounds directly to your cochlea. It’s a test of how well your cochlea and your auditory nerve are functioning.

When they do the air conduction test, they put headphones over your ears. The sounds enter your ear canal and vibrate your eardrum. The eardrum sets some little bones in the middle ear vibrating, and the last of the bones vibrates against the cochlea. Then the cochlea does its thing and sends signals to the auditory nerve.

If the two tests give very different results, it means something is obstructing the vibrations before they reach the cochlea. The obstruction is causing a “conductive loss” and conductive losses can often be corrected. I’m not saying that’s what’s happening to you - I’m just saying it’s a good idea to look at your results and see if it’s a possibility.

On your audiogram’s graph, the bone conduction results should be shown as caret marks – < is the right ear, and > is the left ear. But they should also just list the numbers somewhere, just as they did for your air conduction results. They usually indicate Air Conduction as AC and Bone Conduction as BC.

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#9

Robin, thank you for providing your story and for your “nudge” that I return to Costco to try HAs, even if I don’t see a specialist. I do like that Costco provides a 90-day trial. :slight_smile:

Brad, I am a Vet and already checked with the VA, but my yearly income is above the cut off, so they are unable to assist me.

I do transcription as part of my work (though not as often as I used to) and have no problem as I hear fine out of my left ear and that’s the ear that’s always been most comfortable for me to listen with (both for my transcription and when I talk on the phone), but I wonder if just the fact that I have hearing loss and do transcription work would be enough to get the State’s assistance…always worth a shot! The Lions Club was one of the places the HIS suggested, so I’m going to be checking that association out, as well.

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#10

Daisy, thank you for explaining the air and bone conduction tests.

The only test I had was the air conduction…just ear pieces placed in my ears for me to listen for the beeping sounds.

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#11

I experienced my second ever episode of vertigo today. I woke up with it around 3 or 4 in the morning–I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom a few feet away without holding onto something! My sister has problems with it sometimes and told me how to do a treatment for it that really helped. I had to do it again later, but I’m feeling much better now. I did develop a nasty headache this afternoon, but I’ll take that over vertigo any day! God I hope I never go through that again!

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