by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady asked:
In your article of December 5, 2005, Super-Sensitivity to Sounds you discussed recruitment, from which I suffer severely. I have been unable to find an appropriate hearing aid, although audiologists have said that newer aids might benefit even my profound deafness. Would you tell me the type of hearing aid you use, so that I could try that make and model. I am quite desperate, unable to converse even with my family, and terrified of cochlear implantation-any advice would be welcomed.
When you have a profound loss, recruitment can really be a problem. For some people, as soon as any sound becomes loud enough to hear, it is already too loud to stand. If that is your situation, then hearing aids won’t help you.
However, if you have a bit of dynamic range in which to play (even 20 or 30 dB) then properly fitted hearing aids should be able to help you. (Your dynamic range is the area between the softest sound you can hear and the loudest sound you can stand for any given frequency.)
In order to have hearing aids properly adjusted for you, you need a recent audiogram and you need to have your recruiting levels measured for each frequency and plotted on your audiogram. (In 50 plus years of wearing hearing aids, I think I’ve only had this done once!)
To find your recruiting level at each frequency, your audiologist uses the same pure tones used to find your degree of hearing loss, and continues to raise the volume until all of a sudden your recruitment kicks in and you blink/jump/wince/whatever. They plot these results on your audiogram.
Whoever fits you with a hearing aid then knows that they have to set the compression on each frequency band so that the output of that band never exceeds this figure. In fact, it should be set a bit below this level.
Once you have your recruitment levels plotted on your audiogram, you can go to the same place I got my hearing aids. You likely won’t be able to use my exact model as it won’t have enough power for a profound loss. Mine are medium power (MP), not high power (HP) aids. Mine are also WB–wide band–aids as I have a reverse slope loss and can take advantage of my hearing in the frequencies above 8,000 Hz. (These aids can amplify sounds up to 16,000 Hz.)
I got my hearing aids from America Hears. Look over their website. They produce the Freedom line of hearing aids. All their hearing aid models and prices are listed there–no hidden charges. You’ll want the BTE aid, but the HP model, not the MP model I have.
Email audiologist Kelly Malick at America Hears and tell her I sent you, and that you have severe recruitment like I have. You’ll also have to either mail or FAX her your recent audiogram with all the above info marked on it. (You could phone her at 1-800-492-4515 if you can hear on the phone.)
When she gets your audiogram, she can tell you whether their hearing aids can likely help you or not.
One of the things I like about this company is that they don’t charge you anything if they can’t help you–no restocking charge for returned hearing aids for example.
Another nice thing is that their hearing aids are only about half the price of comparable hearing aids from other companies so you can expect to save $2,000.00 or more on a pair of aids.
Still another nice feature is that they can program your hearing aids over the Internet so you never have to physically go there to be “fitted.” It can all be done on your computer, and over the Internet, and, if you can’t hear on the phone–via email. This is a wonderful (and unique) service. In addition, if you are computer savvy and want to tweak your hearing aids, you can do this yourself on your own computer. However, if you are scared to do this, they will do it for you, and then you can immediately download the new programs into your hearing aids. I love this service.