ASK THE EXPERTS
We get lots of phone calls and emails with questions and try to find experts to answer your questions.
A recent question we had is from a man with a flaccid eardrum. He says that doctors do not treat it, nor are there courses for it in medical school. It is very frustrating because hearing aids do not help. Research on flaccid eardrums seems to concentrate on very young children. Do you have this condition or know anything about it?
Last month, our expert is Dr. Sandra Stumpf Reams of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Sandwich. We thank her for taking the time to answer these questions. Her contact information is below.
1) Q: My 97-year-old Grandfather has hearing aids but does not wear them. He says that he can’t hear well from them.
A: You should see if you can get him to go back to where he purchased them for a check and cleaning. Perhaps they are not working like they should.
Q: My mother says that “she hears just fine and that I am the only one that she has trouble hearing.” I see that she misses parts of conversation when she is out with friends so it's not just me.
A: See if you can get your mother’s MD to refer her to an Audiologist and/or ENT (Hearing Professional) for a hearing test to use as a baseline. It would be wonderful if all Primary Care MDs would send all of their patients for a hearing baseline at about 65 years old. It is not unlike sending a patient for a baseline bone density test.
Q: My grandmother says that all of her friends have hearing aids but most of them leave them in the drawer, so she might as well save the money. In fact you can tell when her friend Louise is not wearing her hearing aid because she cannot hear anything that they are saying.
A: Tell her that is sad. There are many people who wear hearing aids successfully and are able to participate in conversations with loved ones and friends. By not wearing hearing aids, they are excluding themselves from important things in life. Just because she knows a lot of people who do not wear their hearing aids does not mean that she would not benefit. She could be a person who could be very happy with them and hear and understand what her grandchildren are trying to tell her.
Q: My neighbor lives on a very limited income but does not qualify for MAHealth. He cannot afford to get his hearing tested or to purchase hearing aids.
A: Tell him that you have heard that the Lions Club is able to assist people obtain hearing aids and have him contact his local Lions Club. The contact information for all the Cape Cod Lions Clubs is on a paper you can download from the Hearing Loss Cape Cod website or check the phone book.
Q: My uncle wears hearing aids and all they do is whistle. What do I tell him? Why does it happen?
A: Feedback or whistling is the same as when someone with a microphone gets too close to a loudspeaker. Sometimes feedback happens because someone has to much cerumen/ear wax in their ear and as soon as their ear is cleaned the feedback stops. Sometimes it is because the earmold or the hearing aid is too loose because the earmold is old and has shrunk or because the individual has lost weight. In that case a new earmold or a recased hearing aid can help. The other solution is adjusting the volume of the hearing aid.
Q: My neighbor has told me that she has spent over $22,000 on hearing aids in the past 8 years.She is now trying her 5th set of hearing aids.She is not a wealthy person, in fact she sold one of her rings to purchase a set of hearing aids. She continues to feel she is not hearing well and when she goes back to the hearing aid place they sell her another set of hearing aids or a device to work with the hearing aids.
A: That’s a lot of hearing aids over in 8 years! The life span of hearing aids is an average of 5 years. So unless a person’s hearing dramatically changes a person should not have to purchase a new set of hearing aids until they cannot be repaired, etc. When a person obtains a set of hearing aids, they should be verified and validated so as to insure that they are set to the correct “prescription” for the hearing loss. The individual should also be told about their own hearing loss so that they understand if they have any limitations. There are some unfortunate people who can use hearing aids to hear things louder but the hearing aids cannot help a loss in word understanding. When obtaining hearing aids, people should also be informed about appropriate expectations. An example of an inappropriate expectation is expecting someone who wears hearing aids to hear conversation from the other room. There is a trial period for hearing aids, and they can be returned or exchanged until you are satisfied.
For more information, contact
Sandra Stumpf Reams, AuD CCC-A
Board Certified in Audiology
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital-Cape Cod
311 Service Road
East Sandwich, MA 02537
phone (508) 833-4181
scheduling/appointments (508) 833-4141
fax (508) 833-4100