After growing up around the hum of farm machinery and later working in construction, a lifetime of excess noise took away much of Johnny Herold's hearing.
Your Local Health | Written by BJ Towe
After growing up around the hum of farm machinery and later working in construction, a lifetime of excess noise took away much of Johnny Herold's hearing. Herold, of Panora, says, “I never had hearing protection because it was my job to communicate with others.” Recently, at the age of 67, Herold gave in to his family's pleas to get his hearing checked.
After visiting his primary care physician—who told Herold his hearing loss wasn't due to wax buildup—Herold was referred to Douglas Schulte, M.D., an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist at the The Iowa Clinic, where ENTs work as a team with the clinic's Audiologists and other specialists to care for patients. To be fitted with hearing aids, Herold met Audiologist Rebecca Waymire.
“What really caught my attention was that Rebecca herself wears hearing aids. She really understood (my situation), and she's very, very knowledgeable,” Herold says.
After evaluating Herold's specific needs, Waymire recommended and fitted him with a hearing aid on each ear.
“Johnny is a completely different person than when he first came in. He was unsure about hearing aids. After two weeks of wearing the hearing aids, he told me that I'd have to fight to get the aids off of him,” Waymire says.
Here's how hearing aids changed Herold's life:
1. No more asking, “Huh?” Herold says, “My daughters and wife were sick of me saying that word. Everyone—even my boss—knew that I needed hearing aids.”
2. He joins in the conversation. “When three or four people talked at the same time, I just clammed up and sat back. Now I can stay in the conversation,” he says.
3. He enjoys church sermons, TV shows, and movies. “Before hearing aids, I'd miss about 80 or 90 percent of the verbiage. After I got the hearing aids, I might miss about 5 percent of the language. I think someone with normal hearing misses that much,” he says.
4. Perhaps most important, he hears his wife. “My wife Margie and I are very, very close, but she'd have to leave the room when I watched TV because it was so loud. We watch together now. We do a lot of dancing. At the ballroom (recently), the band never bothered me, and I could hear her talking,” he adds.
Waymire says the biggest benefit people gain from hearing aids is reflected in their interpersonal relationships. “Hearing aids lessen the frustration they experience in communicating with loved ones. Communication is more successful, which allows patients to engage in more social situations,” she says.
For anyone with hearing loss, here's really good news: “Most people with hearing impairment would notice some benefit from hearing aids,” says Waymire. “The degree of success will largely depend on the amount of hearing loss and their motivation level.”
As a hearing care professional, Waymire says her sole purpose is “to help patients improve relationships with loved ones by providing the tools needed to allow the best success. I am here to help guide them in the transition from life without hearing aids to life with hearing aids. That's the most rewarding aspect of my job,” she says.
So it makes her really happy when Herold says he won't leave home without them.
In fact, Herold says, “I regret not getting them sooner. If somebody tells you that you should get your ears checked—and they're serious—do something about it right away. Otherwise you miss out on so much.”
The Iowa Clinic's team of Audiologists include:
If you have hearing concerns, call 515-875-9450 to schedule an appointment.
What Style of Hearing Aid?
“There are many different kinds of hearing aids. Choosing the right one depends on what the hearing loss looks like, the patient's expectations, and finding the appropriate hearing aid that fits the patient's lifestyle. For example, are cosmetically discreet hearing aids important to the patient?” says Rebecca Waymire, an Audiologist with The Iowa Clinic.
Generally there are three different styles of hearing aids, each of which can be customized to meet a patient's specific ear structure and hearing needs. These include:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) aids: Most parts are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is connected to an ear mold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. BTE aids are easy to clean and handle, and are durable.
Open mold/Receiver-in-the-ear (RIC) aids: This also fits behind or on the ear, but is smaller. A very thin, almost invisible tube is used to connect the aid to the ear canal. These are currently the most popular hearing aids on the market in that they are comfortable and cosmetically appealing.
Custom aids: These hearing aids are custom to an individual's ear that can fit partly in the ear or completely into the ear canal. They are the smallest hearing aids available and offer some cosmetic advantages, but can be difficult for some people to handle and adjust.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov, 2014;
- Rebecca Waymire, Audiologist, The Iowa Clinic.