As hearing care providers, there’s one particular type of hearing aid that we all get worried about. It’s bad for the patient, and it can deter other people from even attempting to give hearing aids a chance.
They’re referred to 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 tells about their unpleasant experience.
For the countless numbers of people that have owned hearing aids, a good number will call it quits on the prospect of healthier hearing for one reason or another. But with modern day technology, we know that this shouldn’t be the case.
But hearing aids can be complicated. There are several things that can go wrong, producing a negative experience and causing people to give up. But there are ways to prevent this, actions you can take to make sure that, with a touch of patience, you get the optimal results.
If you’ve had a negative experience in the past, know somebody who has, or are planning on giving hearing aids a try, you’ll want to keep reading. By knowing the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can eliminate the same mistakes.
Below are the principal 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 unique. Your hearing loss, 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, as compared to other sounds.
Which means that, if you choose a device that amplifies all sound symmetrically, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will be affected, and you’ll continue to most likely be drowning out speech. You’ll need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the precise sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise simultaneously.
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 specifically. If the settings are incorrect, or your hearing has changed over the years, your hearing professional may have to modify the settings.
Far too frequently, people give up too quickly, when all they need is some adjustment to the amplification settings. And, 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, 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 achieving 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 disappointment. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing substantially, but it takes some time to get used to.
In the beginning, your hearing aids may be uncomfortable and loud. This is normal; you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in many years, and the amplification will sound “off.” Your brain will adjust, 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 worthwhile—for patients who allow themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates rise to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
Individuals with new hearing aids can become easily overwhelmed in congested, noisy environments with a lot of sound. This can occur for a few reasons.
First, if you immediately begin using your new hearing aid in loud settings—prior to giving yourself a chance to adjust to them at home—the sound can be overpowering. 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 too, 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 in time.
And last, you might just need to update your hearing aids. Newer models are becoming increasingly better at eliminating background noise and enhancing speech. You’ll want to take advantage of the new technology as the speed 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 start asking yourself 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 out for you, especially if you work with a trustworthy hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a substandard experience in the past yourself, perhaps a fresh start, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.