Voice occlusion is the perception of one’s voice when wearing hearing aids. Sometimes the voice sounds too loud, muffled, or like an echo. While rare, one of my blog readers shared about her struggles with voice occlusion even when not wearing her hearing aids. Can you relate? Can you help her?
Dear Lipreading Mom,
Can you post a question to your readers about the occlusion you get when hearing your own voice accompanying hearing loss? When I Google this issue the only thing I can find is that people will often get a voice occlusion when wearing hearing aids (HAs). However, I have it with and without HAs, and it seems to be getting worse. It’s so utterly annoying and at times my own voice is so distorted I don’t want to speak. Has anyone else had this affliction? It is really affecting my quality of life and, although I am learning to deal with progressive hearing loss, this is more insidious. My own voice sounds distorted as if I’m speaking with massive cotton in my ears. It’s awful! And yet I’ve gotten no help from several doctors. They just say it’s part of the hearing loss.
Voice of Confusion
If you have a comment or suggestion for ‘Voice,’ post it below.
This was posted on FB, so I just wanted to say that It takes time to get used to changes.
It is something you will have to get used to. Many of my deaf friends have the same issue. They choose whether to voice while signing or shut off their voices. It’s not something that can be fixed. Sorry
The only thing I can suggest is try speech therapy. I’m not sure it’ll help long-term, but maybe it will in the short-term. It is part of the territory when it comes to hearing loss. I’ve noticed it myself. My hearing loss was mild when I was first tested at 4, & now that I’m in my mid-20s, it’s solidly in the moderate category.
This has ZERO to do with speech therapy
Whoa. Chill, dude. It was a *suggestion*. Whether or not it helps, I don’t know. It’s up to the questioner to decide. No need to become angry over a suggestion.
Have a relaxing weekend. It sounds like you need it. 🙂
Hello I had sudden hearing loss about 40 years ago. Speech therapy helped me keep my voice up to my standards in the beginning years. I do use speech therapy today, but I do not have negative feedback from others understanding me. Most people compliment my voice quality. Over 40 years, many new words have entered my vocabulary, which I cannot “hear” well enough to pronounce them correctly. I will avoid those words till I know I can say them right. Speech therapy would boost my confidence on new vocabulary words! I would try speech therapy for a few months.
Another outlet might be where you get fitted for your hearing aids or cochlea implant, there may be a volunteers who help with these things. At my center, they have two volunteers helping with hearing therapy because insurance has gone so high people do not hire hearing therapists much. Plus, there are hearing practice sessions on many websites now. It is important you get encouragement from professionals who will thrive to help you meet your standards!
Dear Voice of Confusion:
Your own voice sounding like you\’re in a barrel has several causes, including what your audiogram looks like, the anatomy of your ear, whether you have a conductive component to your hearing loss; and also the earmold & where it contacts.
Do you have a picture of your hearing aids, and also a scan of your audiogram?
Thanks for your response. I have Oticon Epoqs HA and have sensorial hearing loss. The HA aren’t the problem…the ear fullness is there with or without hearing aids. My oto ruled out Meniere’s disease…no vertigo, and had a hearing test last week with no significant loss…yet the ear fullness and voice distortion has risen acutely in the last week. I have 16% voice resognition in my bad ear (the one that has the most fullness) and 67% recognition in the left ear. I have no headaches and while I have had the fullness since the onset of hearing loss it never was this intrusive. It really is causing anxiety due to it’s impact only when I speak. I’m a teacher and I fear going back to school in the fall. My oto gave me a 5 day pack of predisone to reduce any possible swelling in the Eustachian tubes…but other than that he has no solution or answers. It came on so suddenly. He’s never said there was any conductive loss. It’s genetic/viral/age related. Hearing loss has come on progressively for about 7 years.
I would still like to see your audiological workup, including audiogram, speech audiometry, stapedial (acoustic) reflex thresholds; and if you had an auditory brainstem evoked response (ABR), the results including the tracings. If you don’t want Shanna to post them here, you can e-mail them to me at Dan@Snip.Net
From your description of the problem, it may be that you have an issue of comorbidity, i.e. two separate problems: One problem is causing a problem in both ears, while a second problem is affecting only your right ear. To this end, one iron-clad rule drilled into the head of every hearing care professional is that all asymmetrical losses must be investigated for the presence of a vestibular schwannoma (VS; also called acoustic neuroma (AN)). This is why your ENT should order, at minimum, an ABR; and preferably an MRI, to rule out a VS, due to your asymmetry.
Keep in mind that I am .NOT. making any medical diagnosis here: What you have said above is raising a red flag, and it is up to your ENT to interpret the test results and make the appropriate diagnosis.
I would go to another doctor and have them recheck you for Meniere’s. I’ve had Meniere’s for 31 years. It came on literally over night in my left ear. I don’t have vertigo very often but do have ear fullness and significant hearing loss. 16% and 67% voice recognition is not good. Anxiety will make Meniere’s even worse. Again, I would get a second opinion and also start taking anti-anxiety medication.
Judi – Thanks for the insight!
I would love to hear your outcome because I have the same problem in my left ear
I can relate to this…because I do sometimes feel like a freak…It is what it is. I suppose that with extensive speech therapy, I could learn not to talk with my nose?
I have just accepted the fact that this is who I am, and your voice with the hearing disability is what you make of it.
I used to be really shy about showing my ears. I thought people would look at me funny with the hearing aid in my one ear. People may glance at it for a moment, but it’s not like they are looking at it all the time. I have always had long hair to cover my ears. I suppose it’s silly,but it’s just who I am. Thanks!
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I was taking a nap, I have my iPhone next to my left ear, someone sent me a text, the alert sound on my phone woke me up and immediately move my head away. Since then, when I talk, my voice sounds muffled only in my left ear. I can hear well, no problem. Right now, I can hear anybody talk but when I talk, on my left ear my voice sound muffled like I’m under water or as if someone has a finger in my left ear covering it. Pls help.
Fred – You need to see an ENT (Ears, Nose, Throat) doctor right away to see if your ears are infected. Please don’t delay.