I am often faced with the following comment “she just got new hearing aids, and she still has to read my lips; I don’t think they are working”, or “he wears hearing aids so I know he can hear me, he is just ignoring me”.
From the shape of the ear all the way through to the auditory nerve, the ear is an amazing anatomical structure. When one or more parts of the ear suffers, weakens, or is damaged, it affects our hearing ability. No two people have exactly the same hearing ability. Hearing ability ranges from normal hearing to a profound hearing loss. If we look at normal hearing we will see that normal encompasses a 35 dB range. If someone can hear at 5 dB and someone can hear at 25 dB, they both are considered to have normal hearing. Even when two people present with the exact same hearing loss on paper, their perception of that loss and their ability to cope with that loss can be completely different.
My children have near perfect hearing. They can hear every whispered conversation between my husband and I, they can hear the ice cream truck long before I can, and if they are interested enough they can hear between walls. I myself have “normal hearing”, and the common joke in my house is “mom, you should really get your hearing checked”. I have to use strategies to keep listening to the constant banter that goes on in my house (yes, one strategy is to say rather loudly “I will not answer until you get up and come closer and speak so that I can hear you”). Many people need to use strategies to understand conversation when they have a hearing loss. Reading lips, sitting against a wall so that the sounds are coming at them instead of behind them, and facing the person speaking to them, are just a few strategies that we as hearing professionals teach our clients. It is important to remember that even though someone is wearing what I consider to be a technological marvel behind their ears, they still may need you to face them or tap them on the shoulder when you want their attention. Yes, the hearing aid is working; it is helping your friend hear what you have to say. Enjoy the conversation and give us a call anytime for more information on the diverse effects of hearing loss.