Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hearing Aids Maintenance or How I Bug My Audiologist

Today I visited my audiologist for a maintenance appointment. Usually I wait until one of the ear pieces on the end of the eartube has broken before scheduling an appointment. But this time, nearly eight months has passed with everything intact and I thought I'd better check in. I also wanted to discuss my program settings with her.

As always, I came into the office full of questions. My first one was, "How often should I be coming in for eartube replacement?" I had in the back of my mind that this needed to happen about every six months. My audiologist corrected me on this saying for my hearing aid if nothing is broken, then it's a matter of personal preference. Some people don't come in, others come in every six months. Apparently the good advice she gave me at my last appointment about cleaning my earpieces with alcohol free baby wipes has extended their life. Before it seemed as though I was getting replacements every 4-6 months.

Next, I discussed my program settings with her. I told her that I've been running my hearing aids almost exclusively on my second program - the noise reduction one. I also told her that I've been wearing my assistive listening device more and more. She looked over my charts and the graphs of my current settings. Her recommendation was changing my first program so that it is identical to the second program in noise reduction and speech enhancement. Then she boosted the volume setting a bit on the first program but not so much that I would be startled by the increase in volume. She suggested giving this a try and then letting her know my experience with these settings. Reassuringly, she was very open to the possibility of future adjustments if needed.

Then I brought up some other questions that have been bugging me for a long time due to a previous mishap involving heat and water. Do I need to take my hearing aids out if there's a light misting of rain or if it's sprinkling? I pointed out that I do have long hair which covers my hearing aids. She told me that hearing aids are laboratory tested for these conditions and that I don't need to remove them. I tested her with a follow up question. What about when cooking in the kitchen and I'm boiling water for pasta and there's a lot of steam? Patiently she replied that even in that case it was okay to keep my aids in. Putting them in a dry and store at night helps. When I mentioned that to be safe I had always taken my aids out in these situations, she replied she wished everyone were cautious with their hearing aids but I didn't need to be quite so careful.

Time for my final question. I told her I belonged to a local hearing loss support group and asked if it would be okay to send her some flyers for our next meeting. She was delighted. She said she would set up a special display for them there and in the other office in a nearby town. I ended my appointment on a positive note.

As today she only had in stock an eartube for my left aid and needed to order an eartube for my right, she reminded me as I was leaving that she would contact me when the part had arrived. Goody, I thought, this worrywart will have time to come up with even more questions.

Does your audiologist answer your questions to your satisfaction?


Sam said...

yes, my audiologist is usually pretty good at answering my questions. But now I have one for you - I had never considered using a dry and store - would you recommend them?

jelly said...

All your questions were legit. And my audiologist is about 100 years old and seems relatively patient when answering questions.
However, he never recommended a dry and store or any type of cleaning instruments for my aids.

He just have me the case they came in and sent me on my way. Me, being the pain in the ass that I am, said "Ummmm...where's the cleaning brush and stick like thingy??" then he gave me one. When I asked about a Dry and Store, he said the case they came in was sufficient. I wonder if I do need something else?

He never even mentioned when I should come in if ever!

You know what? Now that I think about it, he kind of sucks!

I think I will blog about this.

Good post, as always Sarah.

John said...

"He never even mentioned when I should come in if ever"


That is strange, I have never heard of a digital hearing aid being set correctly in one fitting.

I went back for at least 10 adjustments.

I am a special case, severe recruitment and I have to switch between a quiet office and a dangerously noisy factory every day.

But still, to get it right on the first shot?

Your aids are digital, are they not?

ms toast burner said...

My audiologist is very good. I got her name via a local deaf and hard of hearing organization as an audiologist who really cared and not one who basically just sold hearing aids.

Yours does too, Sarah and you sound like a great client or patient or customer... or whatever lingo is appropriate!

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Sam,
When I first got my hearing aids no one at the audiologist office mentioned a dry and store. It was only after I got online that I found out about that product. Then a lady in my church got hearing aids and told me all about her wonderful audiologist and how he set her up with all these products for taking care of her hearing aids. Then I asked my audiologist about it at the next appointment (she was new in the office) and she sold me an inexpensive one for $10. I wouldn't say they are a must have but in my opinion they could be helpful for extending the life of your hearing aids.
Thanks for your comment.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Jelly,
I think you wrote a wonderful post on the subject. I'm going to edit mine to link to yours.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi John,
I agree that it's highly unlikely an aid could be set perfectly on the first try. You mentioned that you have to switch between a quiet office and a dangerously noisy factory in your work. That's another reason why audiologists shuold encourage hearing aid wearers to come in for adjustments. The quiet of the audiology office is not comparable to the noise we encounter in everyday life. And each hearing aid user's needs are unique. One setting does not fit all.
Thanks for your comment, John.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Ms. Toast Burner,
I think the phrase you were looking for is "informed consumer". Wouldn't it be nice if there was a booklet titled Everything You Need to Know about Hearing Aids but Didn't Think to Ask?

l1zblog said...

I've been wearing hearing aids since 2002, and I've only had 2 replacements in that time. Dry and store was never recommended to me. But I discovered them later when browsing on the internet. Its something I won't bother with personally myself. I just put them in my boxs that my aids came with, when not in use.

Sarah Wegley said...

July 2015 Update: Jelly's post is no longer available online.