Last week my audiologist adjusted the settings on my hearing aids. I had reached the point where I didn’t want to wear them at work because it was too painful to hear. Environmental sounds were so magnified that I almost jumped out of my skin, yet speech remained barely audible. In the Library, the “clunk” of books, CD cases, and DVD cases landing on book carts and tabletops drowned out all speech. A coworker’s lingering cough EXPLODED in my ears all day for weeks. Crying babies made me rip my hearing aids out! Yes, I looked nutty reacting to sounds that normal hearing people swore were soft!
I was experiencing the wonder known as “recruitment,” explained here by the very knowledgeable Neil Bauman, Ph.D. Recruitment goes hand in hand with a sensorineural hearing loss. The more severe the hearing loss, the worse the recruitment. I’ve been aware of my recruitment for a couple of decades, but the new level of discomfort was unbearable. My wise audiologist decided to test my hearing before adjusting my aids, and discovered that one ear has changed SIGNIFICANTLY; I can no longer hear any high frequencies in my left ear.
If you wear hearing aids and sounds are becoming painful, please make an appointment to see your audiologist right away.