As hearing care providers, there’s one specific style of hearing aid that we all get worried about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can prevent others from even trying to give hearing aids a chance.
They’re better-known 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, discouraging the patient and anyone the patient tells about their inadequate experience.
For the countless numbers of people that have owned hearing aids, a good amount will give up on the prospect of better hearing for one reason or another. But with today’s advanced technology, we know that this shouldn’t be the case.
But hearing aids can be tricky. There are numerous things that can go wrong, leading to an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to call it quits. But there are ways to prevent this, steps you can take to make sure that, with a little patience, you get the optimum results.
If you’ve had a negative experience in the past, know someone who has, or are thinking about giving hearing aids a chance, you’ll want to continue reading. By appreciating the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can avoid the same mistakes.
The following are the most common reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Choosing 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. In addition, most individuals with hearing loss have more difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, compared to other sounds.
Which means that, if you decide on a device that amplifies all sound uniformly, 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 unique sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise in the process.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capacity.
2. Incorrect hearing aid programming or fitting
Seeing as hearing loss is unique, the hearing aid must be custom-programmed for you specifically. If the settings are inappropriate, or your hearing has changed throughout the years, your hearing expert may have to adjust the settings.
Far too frequently, people give up too quickly, when all they need is some modification to the amplification settings. Additionally, if your hearing changes, you may need the settings updated. Think about it like prescription glasses; when your vision changes, you update the prescription.
Also, nearly all hearing aids are custom-shaped to the curves 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. In either case, this shouldn’t prevent you from acquiring better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids a chance to work
There are two problems here: 1) managing expectations, and 2) giving up too early.
If you believe that hearing aids will immediately return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for a letdown. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing considerably, but it requires some time to get used to.
At first, your hearing aids may be uncomfortable and loud. This is typical; you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in years, and the amplification will sound “off.” Your brain will adjust, but not right away. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain completely adjusts to the sound.
Your perseverance will be worthwhile—for patients who allow themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates escalate to over 70 percent.
4. Not being able to hear in noisy surroundings
Patients with brand new hearing aids can become easily overwhelmed in congested, noisy environments with a lot of sound. This can occur for a couple different reasons.
First, if you right away begin using your new hearing aid in loud settings—prior to giving yourself a chance to adapt to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. See if you can adjust in tranquil environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for example.
Second, you’ll have to adjust to the loud environments as well, just like you did at home. It’s common to have one negative experience and give up, but keep in mind, your brain will adapt after some time.
And finally, you may just need to upgrade your hearing aids. Newer models are becoming increasingly better at filtering out background noise and enhancing speech. You’ll want to reap the benefits of the new technology as the pace 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 start asking yourself if any of the above is applicable.
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 bad experience in the past yourself, perhaps a fresh start, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.