As hearing care professionals, there’s one particular type of hearing aid that we all worry about. It’s bad for the patient, and it can keep other people from even making an attempt to give hearing aids a try.
They’re described as “in-the-drawer” hearing aids. As opposed to behind-the-ear or in-the-canal hearing aids, ITD hearing aids never see the light of day, demoralizing the patient and anyone the patient tells about their unpleasant experience.
For the millions of individuals that have owned hearing aids, a good amount will call it quits on the prospect of healthier hearing for one reason or another. But with modern day technology, we know that this should not be the case.
But hearing aids can be tricky. There are numerous things that can go wrong, creating an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to call it quits. But there are ways to avoid this, steps you can take to ensure that, with a touch of patience, you get the optimal results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know somebody who has, or are planning on giving hearing aids a shot, you’ll want to keep reading. By learning about the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can eliminate the same mistakes.
Below are the most common reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Selecting the wrong hearing aid or device
Let’s begin with the fact that everyone’s hearing is different. Your hearing loss, just like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. At the same time, most people with hearing loss have more difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, compared to other sounds.
As a result, if you select a device that amplifies all sound evenly, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will suffer, and you’ll continue to most likely be drowning out speech. You’ll need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the distinct sounds and frequencies you have difficulty with, while suppressing background noise in the process.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this ability.
2. Incorrect hearing aid programming or fitting
Seeing as hearing loss is unique, the hearing aid must be custom-programmed for you exclusively. If the configurations are incorrect, or your hearing has changed through the years, your hearing professional may have to adjust the settings.
Far too often, people give up too soon, when all they require is some modification to the amplification settings. And, if your hearing changes, you might need the settings updated. Think about it like prescription glasses; when your vision changes, you update the prescription.
Also, most hearing aids are custom-molded to the contours of the ear. If you find the fit uncomfortable, it may either just take a little while to get used to or you may need a new mold. Either way, this shouldn’t stop you from attaining better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids an opportunity to work
There are two problems here: 1) controlling expectations, and 2) giving up too early.
If you think that hearing aids will immediately return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for a letdown. Hearing aids will improve your hearing substantially, but it takes some time to get used to.
In the early stages, your hearing aids might be uncomfortable and loud. This is common; you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in many years, and the amplification will sound “off.” Your brain will adapt, but not immediately. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain properly adjusts to the sound.
Your persistence will be worth it—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates increase to over 70 percent.
4. Not being able to hear in noisy environments
Patients with new hearing aids can come to be easily overwhelmed in chaotic, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can happen for a few reasons.
First, if you immediately begin using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—prior to giving yourself an opportunity to adapt to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. Make an effort to adjust in calmer environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for instance.
Second, you’ll need to adjust to the loud environments as well, just like you did at home. It’s typical to have one bad experience and give up, but remember, your brain will adapt after some time.
And last, you may 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 reap the benefits of the new technology as the rate of change is rapid.
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 asking yourself if any of the above applies.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work out for someone else doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, particularly if you work with a established hearing care provider. And if you’ve had a substandard experience in the past yourself, maybe a clean start, improved technology, and professional care will make all the difference.