Making a positive difference in the lives of those with hearing impairment
My typical Hearing Loss Clinic work day consists of many tasks: performing hearing evaluations, adjusting hearing aids, checking and caring for hearing aids, and fitting new hearing aids on both new and experienced wearers. I performed one of my favorite fittings this morning: new open-fit hearing aids for a long-time wearer of hearing aids that had lost part of his hearing through work noise. His type of hearing loss used to be the worst, hardest loss to effectively help, as the old technology hearing aids couldn’t make high frequencies loud enough to hear without driving the wearer crazy with occlusion.
Occlusion is this weird, booming sound that a person can hear when sound waves get trapped and reverberate in their skull. Remember when you were a little kid and your brother was teasing you, and you stuck your fingers in your ears and said, “I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you”? But instead of blocking out his voice, your plugged ears actually made your own voice way too loud and you could really still hear his too? That huge booming sound is called occlusion, and it’s incredibly aggravating to anyone that tries to talk and hear with something stuck in their ears.
Hearing aids for noise-induced losses used to be like that: people could hear themselves talk, chew, swallow, breathe, but still couldn’t hear because of all of the occluded sounds booming around their skull. In 2005, our hearing aid manufacturers, who worked long and hard for many years to create hearing aids that didn’t trap sound waves inside someone’s skull, finally launched the “Open-fitting” hearing aids in Canada. These “open-fit” hearing aids kept patient’s ear canals wide open, and yet allowed good strong high-frequency volume to give great clarity to voices, without too much background sound or any feedback!
People who have previously worn typical hearing aids to help with their noise-induced losses really had a hard time hearing well with traditional aids, and were often quite disappointed with the sound of the world. Fitting these new open-fit aids and letting them experience the new open-fit aids is such a treat for them, and for me! I love the look of amazement on their faces when they hear the clarity without the occlusion. When they come back for their first-week follow-up, I love hearing their positive excitement about how these new open-fit hearing aids sound and perform. They are a world of difference away from traditional aids, and I really enjoy guiding these patients through their trial period with their new open-fit hearing instruments.
If you’ve ever tried hearing aids, and found them to be too noisy, and too boomy, you really owe it to yourself to try the new technology aids again. You might just fall in love with hearing properly again, and open up a whole new world of natural sound for yourself!