Adventures and revelations from getting hearing aids

Photo credit: Chona Kasinger for Disabled and Here, licensed by CC BY 4.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Our noise colleague Yishane Lee at Hearing Health Foundation was kind enough to let me know about this blog post and gave me permission to write about it.
Like author Helen Garrett, I have tinnitus and hyperacusis. Tinnitus is commonly known as ringing in the ears, but technically is the perception of sound without an external sound source. Hyperacusis is a sensitivity to loud noise that doesn’t bother others; that noise actually causes pain in the ears. Like Garrett, I have become much more protective of my ears to prevent further auditory damage and to preserve my hearing.
So far my hearing seems okay. I haven’t considered a hearing aid because I am able to understand conversations and I haven’t gotten a hearing test. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend routine screening for hearing loss, but I think an audiology evaluation is appropriate for someone with concerns about hearing.
Garrett started with an over-the-counter hearing aid, approved in 2022 by the FDA. Many think this is a big step forward, because hearing aids purchased from an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser are very costly, but I am a skeptic. As Garrett found out, selecting a hearing aid isn’t like picking out a pair of reading glasses at the local drug store. As reports, hearing aids aren’t like eyeglasses. Fortunately, she found a good hearing aid specialist and a working hearing aid at Costco.
Garrett concludes her blog post with a wish list of what she would like to see happen, including routine hearing screenings and coverage of hearing aids by Medicare. On my wish list is a quieter world, something I’ve been working towards since 2014, and before that happens, more public education about the dangers of noise.
If something sounds loud, it’s too loud, and one’s auditory health is at risk. Turn down the volume, leave the noisy environment or use hearing protection to safeguard your health.

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