Finding answers to a variety of hearing challenges

Edward Estipona thought his daughter was losing her hearing. The 14-year old girl had trouble understanding her teachers, easily misunderstood song lyrics and had a hard time conversing with her family at restaurants.

“Haley had been mixing up song lyrics and asking us to repeat ourselves for a while, but we didn’t get concerned about it until she started getting worried,” Edward explained. “That’s when we suspected she might have a hearing problem.”

Edward made an appointment for his daughter at Sierra Nevada Hearing Aid Center’s (SNHAC) Carson City office with Audiologist Dr. Heather Dean. “Their office is 20 minutes from our house on Mt Rose and we were able to get an appointment for a hearing test the same week we called.”

The results were not what they expected — Haley’s hearing was perfect. But that did not solve their problem: Haley was still misunderstanding speech regularly. Clearly the problem was something other than hearing. Because they had chosen Sierra Nevada Hearing Aid Center (SNHAC) for their care, they had an immediate referral to an otologist through SNHAC’s sister practice Sierra Nevada Ear, Nose & Throat (SNENT).

SNENT’s Dr. John Forest specializes in diseases and conditions of the ear. He met with Haley, examined her and took her history. “He asked her a lot of questions about when she was having problems hearing,” Edward said. “He figured out it was when background noise was present. Her symptoms matched a condition called auditory processing disorder.”

Essentially, when there is extra audio stimulation — music on the radio, a noisy classroom or restaurant — Haley’s brain mixes up the sounds. One-on-one, she has no problem hearing and understanding. While there is no cure for this condition, understanding it has enabled Haley to self–manage. 

Now Haley knows to choose the front row in class and if she’s in a loud room, with lots of different conversations, she may need to ask a few questions to get clarification.

“Dr. Forest explained the problem in a way that we could all understand,” Edward said. “That was really helpful. Now Haley knows what she needs to do and isn’t frustrated anymore. It’s a relief.”

If you or someone you love is having trouble hearing or understanding normal conversation and sound, get a professional evaluation. Contact Sierra Nevada Hearing Aid Center and meet with Dr. Heather Dean to diagnose your hearing and explore your options. If she can’t help you, she knows some doctors who can. Call 775.882.3277.