11. A Salesman Came To My Home. He Told Me I Should Buy A Second Hearing Aid Or
I Would Lose Some Of My Hearing.
Dr. Abonso: That's probably true, in one sense.
Come on, now! That's like the encyclopedia salesman telling me that my kids
will do poorly in school and never go to college unless I sign right now to
buy a set of his encyclopedias.
Dr. Abonso: I don't sell hearing aids.
Suspicious Consumer: I know: I'm
just expressing my anger at home-visit salesmen who aren't honest.
Dr. Abonso: Well,
you've touched one of my nerves, and I want to provide you with some
information. May I tell you about some recent research?
Suspicious Consumer: Sure, but I don't trust research.
Dr. Abonso: Would you believe test results obtained on your own ears?
Suspicious Consumer: By you?
Dr. Abonso: No, by your audiologist.
Suspicious Consumer: What did they show?
Dr. Abonso: Your
records show that 4 years ago you chose -- against your audiologist's advice
-- to wear only one hearing aid. You chose your right ear because it was easier
Suspicious Consumer: That's true. Why do you bring it up?
Dr. Abonso: When
you were first tested 4 years ago, both of your ears tested
about the same on word lists. When
you were tested last month, although your hearing loss for tones
hadn't changed, your left ear word score was 20% lower than your right ear score.
That could be due to chance, but it's not likely.
Suspicious Consumer: You mean I really did lose something in my unaided left ear by not using it?
Dr. Abonso: I believe
so. That would be consistent with the research I wanted to tell you about.
Suspicious Consumer: Research by real scientists and not marketing people?
Dr. Abonso: Yes, honest scientists.
Suspicious Consumer: O.K., you have my ear.
Dr. Abonso: Dr.
Shlomo Silman and his colleagues at the East Orange V.A. Medical Center found
that veterans fitted with two hearing aids retained the same speech scores in
both ears even years later, while those fitted with only one hearing aid nearly
always lost some of their acuity for speech in the unaided ear.
Suspicious Consumer: That's hard to believe.
Dr. Abonso: Yes
it is, but since then studies in Japan, England, Germany, Scotland, and the
U.S. have confirmed these surprising findings.
Suspicious Consumer: What about
veterans that refused any hearing aid?
Dr. Abonso: Interestingly
enough, they didn't lose acuity in either ear.
Suspicious Consumer: That doesn't make any sense.
Dr. Abonso: Not
until Dr. Silman and his friends realized that nobody goes with out a
hearing aid! The unaided veteran was using both ears all the time: He just made
his wife and friends speak louder so he could hear them. His wife and friends
were his hearing aids!
Suspicious Consumer: Were they willing to do that?
Dr. Abonso: Yes,
willing but not happy! That's why they dragged him back into the clinic; they
were tired of shouting all the time. It's pretty hard to be friendly and loving
to someone you are hollering at!
Suspicious Consumer: What happens to the unaided ear?
Dr. Abonso: It appears
that part of the brain wiring that was used to hook up that ear gets rewired
for other things.
Suspicious Consumer: If I start
wearing two aids, will my brain fully wire that ear up again?
Dr. Abonso: Almost;
research indicates it won't be quite as good as if you had never lost
Suspicious Consumer: So I should trust my door-to-door hearing aid salesman?
Dr. Abonso: I wouldn't
go that far. Why don't you go
back to your audiologist who is highly trained and can
determine if a hearing aid for your left ear will
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