Part II: Treatment for Mom and Daughter
In Part I of this blog, we looked at the hearing tests done by Estes Audiology for a 60-year old mom and how genetics contributed to her moderate hearing loss. Now on the path to restoring active listening, we look at the hearing treatment for this mom, and testing and treatment for her 30-year old daughter who is starting to display some hearing issues as well.
Context and Confidence
Processing takes energy. Families often joke about the “filter” where someone doesn’t hear a statement simply because they aren’t paying attention to the listener. Active listening can overcome noise if desired, given normal levels of hearing. For genetically-lessened ears, the challenges grow.
Much of hearing is contextual, where the listener accurately determines – or correctly guesses – what is being said. What would you like for breakfast? Which of these paint colors do you prefer? Is it raining outside? Hearing may be better in the morning, when a listener is rested and has energy to concentrate. Conversely, hearing at the end of a long day of activity may be difficult. The listener spends so much energy trying to hear people at work, school, church, or running errands, they may be physically drained from the effort. They may avoid noisy restaurants based on the anticipated exhaustion after intense focus. As hearing worsens, the fear of incorrectly guessing words increases, and more situations are avoided.
The longer hearing loss goes untreated, the more auditory nerves go under-exercised, and the more word recognition is lost. A loss of confidence in hearing can affect employment, leisure time, relationships with friends and relatives, and overall quality of life. Hearing loss is the third leading cause of anxiety and depression in seniors.
Restoring Active Listening
For the mother on this visit, Estes Audiology is prescribing the advanced Phonak Audéo B90-R hearing aid for both ears. Soriya Estes spent the beginning of her career in training and sales for Phonak US, and in her private practice she does research and development testing on state-of-the-art Phonak hearing aids. Part of the choice of a hearing device for a patient is based on lifestyle, part on hearing needs.
Powerful microchip-based processing for background noise requires more battery power. The Audéo B90-R recharges its lithium-ion battery as needed by placing a pair of devices in their charging cradle. The in-ear portion of the Audéo B90-R is sized for an individual based on silicone castings created in minutes, with venting customized for all-day use. Processing electronics are housed in a small behind-the-ear unit.
Once fitted, Estes says she will program the Audéo B90-R at 70 to 80 percent of the prescribed levels in each ear. This lessens the stress of a sudden overload from hearing what the mother has been missing for so long. As the auditory nerves are rehabilitated and the brain adapts over about four to six weeks, the devices will be adjusted to their full capability tailored to each ear.
For the daughter, a different choice is needed. Her hearing plots look similar in shape to her mother’s, right down to the same genetic difference with the right ear being worse.
A longer-lasting Lyric hearing aid in only the right ear provides just enough capability to overcome the daughter’s tinnitus. Listeners with a Lyric perceive their ringing as reduced, but what really happens is the hearing aid enhances words and the brain retrains to focus on outside inputs instead of on the noise inside. This could keep her nerves from losing further capability as she ages.
With less processing required for milder hearing loss, Lyric units are entirely in-ear. They feature weeks of battery life, air-activated when the package is opened, and are programmed after insertion with a special wand.
Taking the First Steps
For the family members, there is hope that they can be heard again. Some adjustments are still in order, as hearing aids might not be worn at all times. For instance, context still helps start non-routine conversation: “Mom, let’s talk about registering to vote.” Making eye contact and addressing the listener by name cues them that they need to focus. Over time, rehabilitation restores confidence and improves overall conversation quality.
Hearing loss can be overcome with the right treatment from caring professionals. The team at Estes Audiology offers comprehensive hearing testing and professional fitting and programming services for several brands of hearing aids.
Are you or a loved one experiencing any of these things shared here? Treating the family includes treating both parents and children at various stages of genetically-related hearing loss, and non-blood relatives who interact with them routinely. Seeking prompt treatment sooner can ease the progression of genetically-related hearing loss, help families have better conversations, and allow everyone to #HearLifeAgain.
To ask questions or schedule an appointment for a hearing evaluation with Estes Audiology at any of our 5 South Central Texas locations, please visit: