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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why I Need Hearing Aids

As part of this series of blog posts on my new hearing aids, I thought I would explain why I need hearing aids in the first place. In a nutshell, I need hearing aids to understand speech. The audiology chart below shows where the sounds of speech are in comparison to other sounds. You can see that they fall within a banana shaped outline. I have colored in yellow the portion of the speech banana which I cannot hear unaided. This section includes the sounds of f, s, th, sh, and x.

In the video below you can experience for yourself what conversations at various levels of hearing loss within the speech banana sound like. My own loss is moderately severe - so mine would be most like the moderate loss demonstration. After watching this, you will understand how hard it is for me to hear speech, but it is still possible.

Although I can hear most speech sounds, because some of them are missing, my brain has to fill in the gaps to make sense of what I hear. This is very tiring work. Oticon seems to understand this. They have designed the Agil to provide the hearing aid user with the "energy of understanding".  Here's a quote from their website that explains this concept:

The link between understanding and energy
Oticon Agil is designed to help you expend less energy in every situation. We know that different settings ask more of us than others. A dinner party or chatting with a friend in a busy cafĂ© are just two instances where listening can prove challenging. But it’s not only trying to grasp the properties of sound that can be taxing. In a busy environment, the effort required to listen can leave you with very little to actually enjoy the moment. Oticon Agil changes all that.
Oticon Agil helps you save energy
Oticon Agil preserves the natural dynamics of sounds and gives your brain more of the sounds it can recognise and process. It does this by sending sounds to your brain in the way it learned to process them. That takes the hard work out of making sense of sounds and following what is going on. It means you can now not only keep up, but contribute and participate actively in conversations with less effort. And that is the energy of understanding.

I am hoping that this is not a gimmick, but is something I will actually experience. Often I have been so fatigued after work I can barely drive home. Once there I've fallen into a deep sleep. I also suffer from headaches. I am hoping that wearing my Oticon Agil Pros will relieve my fatigue and prevent many of my headaches.

Update: My friend Liz has written a post about this one and she expands on what I was trying to convey here very succinctly. Please take a look. You will find it here.


Anonymous said...

It is certainly tiring work. I hope your hearing aids give you improvement, and that you notice your not tired as before.

Reminding people that wearing hearing aids does not give us 100% hearing back like we used to have, is omething that needs to be raised I think now and again on our blogs. And that hearing aids just assist us, and hopefully give us some improvement for us, than before.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, hope you get full benefit of your new Oticon hearing aids.
The Flintstone video is welcome education about hearing loss. Thanks for including it. Your blog provides more useful information than some audiologists.
Something fairly simple that helps my husband hear TV is TV EARS with adjustable tone and volume. He can enjoy TV while I can read in silence. Truly amazing!
His hearing loss is 50% in one ear and 65% in the other.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Thanks, I have updated my blog to link back to your post on the subject.

I will discuss this in a future post, but my Connect kit from Oticon includes a device for streaming the sound from my TV directly to my hearing aids. As you can imagine, this is a big help. Especially for programming where captions lag behind, like local news. Thanks for your comment!

Xpressive Handz said...

They were very clever to use a cartoon, for this. So many who aren't aware of having much of a hearing loss wouldn't realize how much lip reading assists them. It makes a huge difference. I like how they put this test together so others can experience for themselves to gain a little more understanding