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Sonic Captivate - April 2019

Interview with Ed Vinson Hearing Instrument Specialist: Saving Lives With Hearing Aids - it's Possible!

Ed Vinson

May 13, 2002
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AO/Beck: Hi Ed. Thanks for your time today. I know you have a personal and interesting story regarding hearing aids and I think it'll be interesting and fun for the readers. But before we get to that, please tell me a little about yourself.

Vinson: Sure Doug. I've been a hearing instrument specialist for some 22 years. I started working with industrial noise for OSHA and have also been involved with engineering related to noise-reduction plugs and related products and services. Using that as my stepping stone, I got involved with hearing, hearing loss and eventually hearing aids. I've worked with Omni, Unimax and Nu-Ear over the years. At this point, I have my own private practice called Foothills Hearing Aid Center in Roseville, California, and we've been up and running for about three years.

AO/Beck: Very good. Let's go ahead and start the story about your dad, his hearing aids and how they potentially saved his life!

Vinson: The story is a fun one to tell. My dad needed to get new hearing aids. His original fitting was about seven years ago, and as you know very well, hearing aids have dramatically improved since that time. So, cutting to the chase, I really like the Sonic Innovations Natura 2SEs, and that's what I recommended for him.

We made the first set and something wasn't quite right. So we remade them one at a time. The first one we remade was the left. When he got the new left unit back, he complained that whenever he wore the hearing aid, he heard a swishing sound. The swishing sound was only in the left ear. He told me time and again that he really liked the new hearing aids, he was able to hear really well, but that darn swishing sound was just too annoying, and he only heard it when the hearing aid was in place.

AO/Beck: Of course when the ear canal is closed, as for example, when a hearing aid is fitted nice and snug into the ear canal, the sounds from within the head and neck region, such as breathing, your own voice, coughing, clearing your throat etc, are somewhat amplified and are part of the occlusion effect. The occlusion effect can usually be very well managed through multiple venting options, circuit options, fitting techniques, hearing aid styles and counseling - but I think you're telling me that the swishing sound your dad heard in his left ear was a far greater sound than you would expect based on occlusion alone - is that correct?

Vinson: Exactly right. After a little while he noticed that the swishing sound was actually in rhythym with his heartbeat and he reported that to me. So I immediately told him to tell his cardiologist. My dad was fortunately switching cardiologists at about this time and he had an appointment already set with his new cardiologist. The cardiologist listened to his history and his heart, and then listened to his carotid artery on the left side and he too heard the swishing sound! They confirmed it was the same sound and the same timing as the swishing sound my dad heard. The cardiologist couldn't believe that my dad had heard the swish through his hearing aids, and when they did the follow-up testing they learned that the carotid on the left was 99 percent occluded. They scheduled him for surgery two days later.

AO/Beck: How did the surgery go?

Vinson: The surgery was textbook perfect. No problems at all. My dad did fine, he is up and about and he reports he's feeling better than he has in a long time.

AO/Beck: And the swishing sound?

Vinson: The swishing sound is gone and he is a happy hearing aid patient, now wearing his Sonic Innovation Natura 2SEs in both ears, without swishing sounds!

AO/Beck: That is a great story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I want to be clear that not all swishing sounds will indicate a medical problem, and conversely, not all plugged-up arteries will have any auditory signs or symptoms. Nonetheless, we always recommend that all hearing loss, ear, balance, dizziness, tinnitus and related problems, and particularly changes in these problems should be brought to the attention of your regular doctor or your ear doctor immediately. Only a physician can evaluate, diagnose and treat these problems and their timely involvement is critically important to the safe and effective management of these problems. I think the fact that you had your dad bring this information quickly to his cardiologist probably had a lot to do with the successful and happy conclusion in this situation.

Vinson: My pleasure Doug. I know it sounds a little funny, but now you can understand why I think hearing aids may have helped save my father's life, and I think it's great that you're helping to get this story out.

AO/Beck: Thanks again for sharing the story. I wish you and your dad all the best!


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Ed Vinson

Hearing Instrument Specialist