How to Talk to Your Audiologist

It was a busy day at the Sanderson Community Center with over 300 people attending the yearly egg hunt however we still had good attendance for our meeting in spite of worrying over parking issues.  The steering committee showed up extra early with coffee, Einstein Bagels and juice.  We socialized for about 45 minutes, seeing a few members we haven’t seen in a while which was a delight!  It was one of our best meetings.

Lisa starting off the meeting.

Lisa starting off the meeting.

Lisa Dahlstrom, AuD from the University of Utah, was our presenter and our topic was “How to Talk to Your Audiologist.”  She started us with common questions that should be asked  on your first and why they ask them.

When did hearing loss start?  Does anyone else in the family have hearing loss? that clues her in on if it’s congenital or not.

Is it in one ear or both ears?  One ear can be red flag for something wrong like tumors.

Ear surgeries?  Looking to see if the eardrum might be damaged.

Tinnitus? With dizziness? If the tinnitus came on suddenly or is in one ear only, that’s a red flag for tumors.  She asks about dizziness and then wants to know if it’s a tipping over feeling or is the whole room spinning?  If it’s a tipping over feeling, she will send people to the neurologist.  If it’s the room spinning, she pursues Meniere’s disease.

Have you been around loud noises?  People often don’t know what those loud noises are and they will typically say no but when she asks about their hobbies things turns up like hunting and use of power tools.

About 95% of the people have peripheral hearing loss which is more to the outside: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural, hereditary, trauma, ototoxic and age related hearing loss.

The other kind of hearing loss is retro cochlear, inside the head which is more serious: brain or nerve damage, mini stroke in the vessels around the ear, MS, acoustic tumors and enlarge vestibular aqueducts.

Lisa told us that what we tell her about how we hear, helps adjust her to adjust our hearing aids.  If we bring audiologist a list of specific noises that we think we are missing or what sounds we don’t like helps audiologists make better program adjustments to hearing aid programs.  Things like:

  • When the dishwasher comes on, it seems to shut down my hearing aids.
  • When riding in the car, the road noise shuts down my hearing aids or I only hear the road noise in cars.
  • I can’t follow the conversation with the clerk in the grocery store.
  • Traffic noises is too loud.
  • When I’m in a quiet settings I have troubles following conversation.

I even once complained that chopping vegetables on the cutting board had me grinding my teeth it was so uncomfortable.  Lots of things can be adjusted once we specify what’s bothering us. With today’s digital hearing aids, these adjustments can be made: gain, frequency response, compression, noise suppression, directional mic, t-coil, wireless and  speech enhancement.

She talked a little on the differences between audiologists and hearing instrument specialists.  She ended the meeting saying she like to tell family, “Always give the person with a hearing loss the benefit of the doubt.  Don’t think they are ignoring you or not paying attention.”

After the meeting the steering committee met to talk about upcoming meetings.  May is Better Speech and Hearing month.  We will be joining Loop Utah at one of the first venues to be looped in celebration.  More details on when and where will be coming soon.

In July we will have a picnic in the Millcreek area with tips on socializing with hearing loss leading up to the event.

In September the topic will be Hearing Loss and Health issues with Kathy Evans and Marilyn Call presenting.  We will a couple going to the National HLAA convention in Missouri in June reporting on their experience.   That’s bound to be a super meeting as well!

For November, we will talk about our favorite technology and share how it works.  We will also feature wireless technology and present apps for smart phones that work for hearing loss.