Unilateral Hearing Loss

#1

People with unilateral hearing loss, do you wear a hearing aid? Have you had the loss for a long time, or did you acquire it later in life? I have had a unilateral loss since at least Kindergarten, maybe all of my life. First tried HA ten years ago. It’s been stable but moved a bit recently. It used to be only 4000-8000, but now 3000 is affected too.

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#2

I lost significant hearing in my left ear in my teens from shooting large guns without hearing protection. I went through life and into retirement knowing I had a loss, which I recall was a sharp spike down in the 4 kHz range recovering at higher frequencies. More recently I became more and more aware of my hearing being a bit of a problem (or the frequent adverts on TV got to me!). So I went into this thinking I needed only one hearing aid, but quickly found out that my right ear was not that great either. Now I have two aids, I find that the improvement in my right ear is more of a benefit to me than the improvement in my left ear.

The difference between your two ears is striking. Have you had a diagnosis on cause? I recall when my left ear hearing loss was discovered 40 years ago or so, I had some extensive in hospital testing done with electrodes on my head to determine the cause. I don’t understand it all, but I guess they were trying to determine if it was an ear problem or a brain problem. In the end they said it was ear, and it had been caused by the gun noise, with my left ear being closer to the muzzle (with no hearing protection of course).

My thoughts are that your situation is going to be difficult. You are not going to get much benefit from a hearing aid in your left ear, and aiding the loss in the right is going to be hard. You could gain some high frequency speech recovery in that ear, but the issue may be that you have not heard those sounds for a long time, and your brain may not recognize what they are.

Seems to me that it may be worth trying hearing aids in both ears first to see if that helps. Costco is a low pressure way to get a fair evaluation and trial if you are a candidate. Costco does not do CROS, so if that is seen to be the solution they will recommend going elsewhere.

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#3

When you first had the loss, did you notice a lot of difference? Sounds like you had more loss very gradually and didn’t start using hearing aids until both sides could benefit. I have used an over the counter amplifier on my good side, and it did help me to hear an in a large classroom. Right now I am just wearing the prescription hearing aid in the right ear.

They did a lot of testing on me in Kindergarten, but I don’t remember what the results were. I first starting using a hearing aid in 2007, and I did got benefit from it, but I used it mostly in the classroom, and when summer vacation came, I would always stop using it. I changed teaching roles, schools, and tried a few different aids over the years. Most recently I was using nothing but now I am using an IIC Starykey Picasso i2400. I really like it a lot.

There is great improvement with hearing my daughter in the backseat of the car.

There is great improvement in talking with my daughter. I feel much more relaxed talking with her.

When seated in a sandwich restaurant, another party came in and sat at the table next to me, on my bad side. I could not understand what they were saying to each other for several minutes. I was trying to figure out what language they were speaking. Finally I realized they were speaking English with a strong accent from England.

Without a HA, I likely would have ignored them completely and not even tried to listen to them.

So that is progress?

When walking with my daughter, she was on my bad side. Her voice sounded “stripey”. Other times it sounded like she was talking through a plastic toy phone.

I have an at-home audiogram on my iphone. When I listen to 3000 at 45 db, it sounds “stripey”…not a pure tone but a chirp that goes in and out. It doesn’t become a solid tone until 55 db. Maybe that adjustment could take away the “stripey” sound?

Overall I love wearing this hearing aid. I have a feeling that it is only doing half of what it could do though.

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#4

I never really noticed the loss until I was told about it when doing an at work hearing screening. Over the years I have turned up the left channel of our home stereo quite a bit more, but other than that it was not a big issue.

My thoughts would be that you could benefit from the additional power of a RIC style hearing aid like their KS8 which comes as a pair. A RIC should deliver more power without feedback to your bad ear. So you would also get the benefit of better correction of your good ear, and because the two hearing aids talk to each other, you should get better directionality cues. Your microphones should “focus” better on the sounds of interest.

The nice part about using an iPhone is that the calls come wirelessly direct to both your ears. I find that by far to be the best and clearest way to communicate on the phone. But, I suppose with your good ear phone conversations are not a problem for you.

However, this is all just theory. The proof is in the pudding. I think if I were you and have access to Costco I would try a pair of their KS8 aids and see what they do. That is easily the best and least expensive way to get into binaural hearing aids and hearing.

One interesting program that the KS8 aids have is called an anti reverberation program and is intended for places like a classroom where echos can be a problem…

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