This weekend my hearing aid settings were just wrong. I could hear every background noise, each buzz and beep, but not voices. At dinner, the silverware clinking on the plates blocked out the conversation. In the car, the sound of the wind overpowered the music. My children’s laughter in the back seat was excruciatingly loud, but my husband’s voice beside me was not discernible. I had visited the audiologist the day before and we had made a few tweaks. I couldn’t wait to go back to set things right.
My hearing aids are atypical. They are extended wear and are replaced on a subscription model every few months. I always get the most recent technology, which is wonderful, but sometimes the settings from the last pair are not saved properly and it is a bit of trial and error to get myself back on course. This time was one of the bad times.
I am always surprised that I don’t notice the problem right away, but since the new pair has a fresh battery, everything usually sounds a little sharper and fresher. Sometimes I mistake a problem for this enhancement. Since it takes a day or two to adjust to any new hearing aid settings, I usually give it a few days to be sure I have a problem before returning to the audiologist for a correction. She is always very willing to help, but the interim period is painful.
This particular time, the settings felt incredibly out of whack. The sound of paper rustling was painful. Water running was agony. The strangest sounds were amplified like the sound of my towel drying my face after washing it. Voices were hidden behind the onslaught of heaters, refrigerators and even the wind. It was all too loud and disorienting.
I kept my hearing aids in sleep mode most of the weekend. This reduced the overwhelming din of the background noise and relieved the feeling that I was drowning in sound, but left me feeling disoriented and dizzy. It also revved up my tinnitus, since the sounds I hear through my hearing aids were no longer masking it.
The good news is that I knew on Monday, my audiologist and I would work through it and get me back in business. And we did.
This experience highlights the importance of staying on top of your hearing health. If you notice something suddenly odd about the way things sound through your hearing aids, make an appointment with your audiologist right away. Perhaps your hearing aid needs an adjustment or your audiogram needs updating.
Only you can know for sure if something feels wrong — and you must take action to fix it. Your hearing and the quality of your life depend on it.
Readers, have your hearing aid settings ever been just wrong?
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