Last week I went for a hearing exam. I thought I'd describe my experience and share my results and conversation with the audiologist.
I was shown into the testing room and given a seat in a soundproof booth where I removed my hearing aids. My nose was sprayed with a solution to clear my nasal passages so I could get the best results possible. "The ear and nose are connected," explained the technician.
I had my ear pressure tested first. A handheld instrument was held up to each ear. I could hear some ringing tones but I did not need to respond in any way. This test was not uncomfortable at all.
Here's a YouTube video that demonstrates and explains this test of the middle ear. (Note: this audiologist uses different equipment than mine.) Captions provided by Bill Cresswell.
Next I had a speech reception threshold test. For this test I needed to respond to what the technician said. Headphones were placed over my ears, the door to the booth was closed, and the technician spoke to me through a microphone connected to my headphones. She said spondee words (two syllable words spoken with equal stress) like cowboy, hotdog, and ice cream.
Note: if you've ever wondered if it's a problem that you're familiar with the words for this test, check out this helpful article for some reassurance that it's fine. What's being checked is how softly the words can be spoken and you can still respond correctly.
My final test was to listen through the headphones for tones and push a handheld button (ala Jeopardy!)as soon as I heard something. Tones would be presented at varying pitches. I asked if I should push the button if I was unsure whether I was simply hearing an echo or a new tone. I was told to push that button!
Here's a YouTube video that demonstrates and explains this test of the inner ear. (As before, this audiologist uses slightly different equipment than mine. I found it really interesting to see the test performed from the audiologist's perspective.) Captions provided by Bill Cresswell.
Like the other tests, this one is painless. Actually the hardest part is waiting for the results. With bated breath I waited to find out if my hearing loss had gotten any worse.
The technician announced that the audiologist would see me next and she told me my hearing had remained the same. Phew. I released my breath and relaxed.
My first hearing test ever had been performed in 2006 and the two taken since then have revealed no further hearing loss. That's good news!
In the audiologist's office, I asked if my hearing aids could be adjusted a bit. I explained that my son had told me the following joke recently, "What does one tickle say to another?" I guessed "ha ha". He looked at me strangely and said, "Dill you be my valentine?" Oops. He had actually said pickle, not tickle. The audiologist reassured me that mistaking high pitched consonants was not unusual for my type of hearing loss and that she could adjust the volume upward only in their range. That way everything else wouldn't seem extremely loud. After the adjustment she said "sickle, pickle, tickle, thickle" and I could tell them apart!
I told her I have trouble coping with the buzzer sounding at my son's basketball games. I jump almost every time. She said something I had never known before - that with my type of hearing loss, I am prone to be more sensitive to volume differences. Hmmm....that's interesting!
Then she changed my eartubes for fresh, clean ones. I asked her about using a Dry & Store. She said she had something similar she could sell me for $10. I was pretty sure the Dry & Stores were more expensive in the catalogs I had seen. Since I hadn't been using one at all up until now, I thought I'd get hers. It's basically a plastic jar with a screw on lid. Inside on the bottom is a screen filled with desiccant beads to remove moisture. The instructions say "When all the desiccant beads are green, it is time to reactivate. To do this, place desiccant, screen side up, in microwave and heat for 30 seconds on high. Repeat cycle until beads are orange. Cool before touching."
Next I asked her about cleaning my eartubes with Audiowipes. She suggested using Huggies wipes Natural Care (no alcohol) as they would be much less expensive. I found them at my local grocery store for less than $2.
So what do you think? Are these bargains an acceptable substitute for the name brand items found in the catalogs? What products do you use?
I'll blog again soon about ways I've been trying to protect my hearing.
Thanks again to Bill Cresswell for making these videos accessible.