As hearing care professionals, there’s one particular style of hearing aid that we all worry about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can prevent others from even attempting to give hearing aids a try.
They’re called “in-the-drawer” hearing aids. In comparison 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 unfavorable experience.
For the countless numbers of people that have obtained hearing aids, a good amount will call it quits on the prospect of healthier hearing for one reason or another. But with today’s advanced technology, we know that this shouldn’t be the case.
But hearing aids are complicated. There are many things that can go wrong, creating an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to call it quits. But there are ways to prevent this, steps you can take to make certain that, with a bit of patience, you get the optimum results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know someone who has, or are considering giving hearing aids a chance, you’ll want to keep reading. By appreciating the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can prevent the same mistakes.
Below are the principal reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Choosing 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. Additionally, most individuals with hearing loss have more challenges hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, compared to other sounds.
For that reason, if you decide on a device that amplifies all sound symmetrically, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will suffer, 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 trouble 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 specifically. If the settings are inaccurate, or your hearing has changed over the years, your hearing expert may have to adjust the settings.
Far too often, people give up too quickly, 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, nearly all hearing aids are custom-shaped 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. In either case, this shouldn’t prevent you from acquiring 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 instantly return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for discouragement. Hearing aids will improve your hearing considerably, but it takes some time to get used to.
In the beginning, your hearing aids might 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 properly adapts to the sound.
Your perseverance will be worthwhile—for patients who allow themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates increase to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy surroundings
People with new hearing aids can come to be very easily overwhelmed in hectic, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can happen for a few reasons.
First, if you immediately start using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—before giving yourself an opportunity to adapt to them at home—the sound can be overpowering. See if you can adjust in tranquil 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 negative experience and give up, but keep in mind, your brain will adapt after some time.
And finally, you might just need to update your hearing aids. The latest models are becoming progressively better at filtering out background noise and boosting speech. You’ll want to reap the benefits of the new technology as the speed 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 for somebody else doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, particularly if you work together with a trustworthy hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a negative experience in the past yourself, maybe a clean start, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.