As hearing care professionals, there’s one specific type of hearing aid that we all worry about. It’s bad for the patient, and it can avert others from even making an effort to give hearing aids a chance.
They’re described as “in-the-drawer” hearing aids. As opposed to behind-the-ear or in-the-canal hearing aids, in-the-drawer hearing aids never see the light of day, demoralizing the patient and anyone the patient instructs about their bad experience.
For the countless numbers of individuals that have owned hearing aids, a good amount will call it quits on the prospect of better hearing for one reason or another. However, with modern day technology, we know that this should not be the case.
But hearing aids are complicated. There are many things that can go wrong, leading to an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to give up. But there are ways to avoid this, steps you can take to guarantee that, with a little patience, you get the best results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know someone who has, or are thinking about giving hearing aids a chance, you’ll want to continue reading. By being familiar with the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can avert the same mistakes.
Listed below are the primary reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Selecting the wrong hearing aid or device
Let’s start with the fact that everyone’s hearing is distinct. Your hearing loss, just like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. What is more, most individuals with hearing loss have more challenges hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, as compared to other sounds.
For that reason, if you settle on a device that amplifies all sound evenly, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will be affected, and you’ll still most likely be drowning out speech. You need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the particular sounds and frequencies you have difficulty with, while suppressing background noise simultaneously.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capacity.
2. Inaccurate hearing aid programming or fitting
Seeing as hearing loss is unique, the hearing aid must be custom-programmed for you exclusively. If the settings are inaccurate, or your hearing has changed over the years, your hearing professional may have to adjust the settings.
Far too frequently, people give up too quickly, when all they need is some adjustment to the amplification settings. Additionally, if your hearing changes, you might need the settings updated. Think of it like prescription glasses; when your vision changes, you update the prescription.
Also, most hearing aids are custom-formed to the contours of the ear. If you find the fit uncomfortable, it may either just take some time to get used to or you may need a new mold. Either way, this shouldn’t stop you from accomplishing better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids an opportunity to work
There are two problems here: 1) managing expectations, and 2) giving up too quickly.
If you think hearing aids will instantly return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for discouragement. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing drastically, but it takes some time to get used to.
In the beginning, your hearing aids might be uncomfortable and loud. This is common; you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in years, and the amplification will sound “off.” Your brain will adjust, but not over night. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain properly adjusts to the sound.
Your perseverance will be worthwhile—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates rise to over 70 percent.
4. Not being able to hear in noisy surroundings
Patients with new hearing aids can become very easily overwhelmed in busy, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can occur for a few reasons.
First, if you right away start using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—before giving yourself a chance to adjust to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. Try to adjust in calmer environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for instance.
Second, you’ll have to adjust to the loud environments too, in the same way you did at home. It’s typical to have one negative experience and give up, but remember, your brain will adapt in time.
And last, you might just need to upgrade your hearing aids. Newer models are becoming progressively better at filtering out background noise and enhancing speech. You’ll want to take advantage of the new technology as the rate of change is fast.
It’s true that hearing aids are not for everyone, but the next time you hear a story about how hearing aids don’t work, you should begin questioning if any of the above is applicable.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work out for somebody else doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, particularly if you work together with a trustworthy hearing care provider. And if you’ve had a bad experience in the past yourself, perhaps a clean start, improved technology, and professional care will make all the difference.