PRO HEARING SPONSORED CONTENT – As an audiologist, I have the great privilege of helping others with hearing loss.
I love educating patients and helping them on their journey to better hearing. One of the reasons that I am so passionate about my job, even after 30 years, is because hearing loss is personal to me. My perspective as an audiologist with hearing loss is unique because I can relate personally to the struggles of hearing loss. Every day for the last three decades, I have had the pleasure of getting to know my patients and hear their stories. I wanted to take the time and share my own journey with hearing loss and how having and treating my own hearing loss as made me a better audiologist.
As a child, I had frequent ear infections usually as a result of fluid in my middle ear. My infections were so severe that I had to have “tubes” placed in my ear drums several times to alleviate the pressure and allow the fluid to drain. Frequent and severe ear infections are enough to cause scarring on eardrums, let alone having numerous tube procedures. Needless to say, my eardrums are permanently scarred. In the past, studies have shown that children with frequent middle ear infections are more likely to have certain delays and challenges such as the ability to process speech in background noise. I am living proof that those studies were indeed correct. Now as an adult, I have difficulty understanding speech in the presence of any and all background noise. Like many of my patients, I also struggle with tinnitus or ringing in my ears. These are the main reasons why I wear hearing aids today.
Ironically, it wasn’t until I was finishing my doctorate degree in audiology that I found I was struggling more than ever to hear at meetings, gatherings, and noisy places (even though my audiometric thresholds were within the normal range). As I aged and my thresholds declined, I struggled more and more. I also noticed that my tinnitus becoming more disruptive. That is when I began to wear hearing aids five years ago. As I mentioned, hearing in background noise is the number one issue I struggle with and is probably the most mentioned issue I hear from my patients as well. My first pair of hearing aids left a lot to be desired in the area of background noise reduction. However, as time and technology has progressed, background noise reduction features have improved, and consequently, so has my experience in noisy environments!
My newest set of hearing aids is hands down, my favorite! I am wearing the newest technology by Starkey called the Evolv. They are by far, the best product that I have worn or fit that truly makes a significant difference in hearing in noisy environments. With that said, please remember that hearing aids are devices that help, not cure! They cannot restore hearing to normal or give 100% satisfaction. Success with hearing technology is dependent on every individuals hearing loss, speech discrimination scores (how well one can understand speech without visual cues) and brain processing speeds. Even so, I have had much success fitting (and using) this product even when the primary complaint is not hearing in background noise.
What makes the Evolv stand out is a feature called “Edge Mode,” which is a proprietary technology that significantly reduces background noise while bringing in speech more clearly at the same time. It has been a game changer for me when I go to restaurants, family gathering, sporting events, and for understanding people wearing masks. It also has Bluetooth technology that streams my phone calls right into my hearing aids, which allows me to hear my phone calls more clearly. Additionally, my Evolv hearing devices help immensely with my tinnitus! Those struggling with tinnitus know how desperate it can feel to need relief! I have a programmable tinnitus feature that has shaped white noise to fit my tinnitus needs and can switch on to lower the annoyance of my tinnitus.
Having experience with hearing loss myself means I can relate to my patients on a more personal level. I understand what it is like to struggle in challenging environments. Walking my own hearing journey has given me a more compassionate and understanding perspective that no doubt, has impacted the way I approach hearing care. Hearing loss is deeply personal and requires delicate, individualized care by a professional who can provide proper adjustments to maximize the benefit given from hearing technology. I have learned in my own hearing journey that just a few minor adjustments can make a huge difference in clarity and comfort! At Pro Hearing, we use tools such as speech mapping and real ear to help visualize pitches and gain that help us make precision adjustments to accommodate each patient’s unique hearing needs.
My personal relationship with hearing loss has no doubt, helped shape me into a better audiologist. My experience in having my own hearing loss treated certainly has impacted how I approach patient care. I have learned that an individualized approach and custom solutions are key to treat hearing loss successfully. Our staff at Pro Hearing are passionate about providing expert care and helping each patient hear to the best of their ability! If you or a loved one is struggling with hearing loss, call our Pro Hearing office and let us help you begin your journey to better hearing today!
Dr. Pam Matthews, Audiologist
Pro Hearing, LLC
9409 N May Avenue and 10404 S Pennsylvania Ave
Oklahoma City, OK