As hearing professionals, there’s one particular style of hearing aid that we all are worried about. It’s bad for the patient, and it can stop others from even making an attempt to give hearing aids a chance.
They’re 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 millions of individuals that have purchased hearing aids, a good number will give up on the prospect of better hearing for one reason or another. But with today’s advanced technology, we know that this should not be the case.
But hearing aids are complicated. There are numerous things that can go wrong, producing a negative experience and causing people to call it quits. But there are ways to prevent this, steps you can take to assure that, with a bit of patience, you get the optimum results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know somebody who has, or are thinking about giving hearing aids a chance, you’ll want to keep reading. By becoming familiar with the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can prevent the same mistakes.
The following are the primary reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Purchasing the wrong hearing aid or device
Let’s begin with the fact that everyone’s hearing is different. Your hearing loss, like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. Additionally, most people with hearing loss have more difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, as compared to other sounds.
Which means that, if you select 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 in the process.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capability.
2. Incorrect hearing aid programming or fitting
Since hearing loss is unique, the hearing aid must be custom-programmed for you exclusively. If the configurations are inappropriate, or your hearing has changed throughout the years, your hearing expert may have to modify the settings.
Far too often, people give up too soon, 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-formed to the curves 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 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 hearing aids will instantly return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for a letdown. Hearing aids will improve your hearing dramatically, but it requires some time to get used to.
In the beginning, your hearing aids might be uncomfortable and loud. This is normal; you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in years, and the amplification will sound “off.” Your brain will adapt, but not right away. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain properly adjusts to the sound.
Your persistence will pay off—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates skyrocket to over 70 percent.
4. Not being able to hear in noisy surroundings
Patients with brand new hearing aids can come to be very easily overwhelmed in chaotic, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can happen for a couple different reasons.
First, if you immediately start using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—before giving yourself an opportunity to adjust to them at home—the sound can be overpowering. Try to adjust in calmer environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for instance.
Second, you’ll need 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 keep in mind, your brain will adapt in time.
And finally, you might just need to update your hearing aids. The latest 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 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 start wondering if any of the above is applicable.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t work out for you, especially if you work together with a trustworthy hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a negative experience in the past yourself, perhaps a clean start, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.