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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hearing Aid Mishap

See that tiny tip at the end of the tubing?
That part got stuck in my ear!

On my way home from work and en route to picking up my son from school, I casually reached up to switch programs on my hearing aids. Something I do without thinking every day. This time was different. One of my hearing aids didn't switch programs. I've had that happen before so I tried again. This time it switched but then the sound went crazy with feedback. "What on earth?" I wondered as I reached up to pull it out of my ear careful to keep my eyes on the road. A second later when I glanced down at it on my lap, I noticed the tip was missing. Uh oh. At the next stoplight I felt around my ear and thought I might have touched it. I was almost to my son's school by then so I continued on to get him. When he got in the car, I pulled over into an empty parking space, got out of the car, and checked around the driver's seat and on my clothes. No hearing aid tip. I asked him to take a look inside my ear. He couldn't see it. I decided to call my ENT's office.

Fortunately, the staff had not left for the day and they told me they would wait until I got to their office even though I was about 20 minutes away at the time. I was so relieved to have a plan of action although I did worry a bit in case the tip turned out not to be in my ear. Would the doctor be angry with me for wasting his time? I fretted until the thought occurred to me that as much money as an ENT doctor makes, it would hardly be a waste as I was sure I would be charged either way.

When we got to the office, one of the audiologists took a look in my ear with an otoscope. "I see it," she announced to my relief. Then the doctor came in took a quick peek of his own in both ears and took out something that looked like a thin wire. One of the staff told me to hold very still. In a jiff, he had extracted it. Phew, I was glad that was over. The audiologist left the room to get me a new tip and tube. Meanwhile the doctor was looking at my chart. "It's been more than a year since your aids have been reprogrammed, why not have it done now", he suggested. "After all you've come all this way", he said persuasively. "Do you have time now?" I asked the audiologist when she returned. "Yes, our office holiday party is this evening and I live too far away to go home first. I was just going to hang around here anyways."

With that settled, I decided to go ahead. Despite having an impatient, hungry teenager on my hands, I wanted to get my hearing rechecked. I was pretty certain I wasn't hearing as well as before and having it looked at now beat the hassle of scheduling an appointment around my job for another time. In my next post, I'll reveal the results of that test.

When I wrote about this mishap on facebook, I think I gave the wrong impression that a part of my hearing aid broke off or that a piece of the hearing aid tube snapped off in my ear. That wasn't what happened. I want to clarify that the round tip is a separate piece that fits very tightly onto the tubing. It's slipped off while I've cleaned it perhaps once or twice but never while wearing it. I don't know how this happened but the audiologist says it does happen occasionally. The important thing is to get it out as soon as possible. My audiologist said if I had left it in for a couple days, I risked getting an outer ear infection. Not to mention that my ear felt pretty sore anyways. I left my hearing aid out of that ear all day yesterday just to help it recover. Today it's feeling fine.

I hope this never happens to you, but if it does, get help as soon as possible. I'm glad I did.


IfuwantajobdonerightDIY said...

I've had this happen a couple times, ok a few tips aren't as small as yours, but the first time it really freaked me out. The second time I was at work and I work with guys that have tools so I casually asked one of them to grab some needle nose pliers and grab it, but this last time I was totally unaware of what I had done. I'd been off for a few days and home so I didn't remember having them in for a few days. I started to feel like I was getting an ear infection which brought back early childhood memories of when I had an earache and all my ear problems started. I started taking Advil and the pain just wouldn't quit. I made an appointment with my doctor and when I went to put my hearing aids in the tip was missing. Hmmm strange I thought must have dropped it when cleaning them, wonder if one of the cats ate it. Get to the doctor and he asks if I have any hearing in that ear, he can't see anything. Then it dawns on him that he's seeing the tip which just appears as a black hole. In my ignorance of it being in there I had pushed it into my brain with a Q-tip (not really, but close). Amazingly after he removed it all symptoms cleared up. I tell you this in hopes that others won't be so stupid, but what's a little more embarrassment being HoH it comes with the territory.

Sarah Wegley said...


Thank you for sharing your story! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one this has happened to.