As hearing care providers, there’s one specific style of hearing aid that we all are worried about. It’s bad for the patient, and it can prevent other people from even making an effort to give hearing aids a chance.
They’re described as “in-the-drawer” hearing aids. In contrast 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 instructs about their unpleasant experience.
For the millions of individuals that have owned hearing aids, a good number will give up on the possibility of better hearing for one reason or another. However, with today’s advanced technology, we know that this should not be the case.
But hearing aids can be complicated. There are numerous things that can go wrong, triggering an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to call it quits. But there are ways to avoid this, steps you can take to make certain that, with a touch of patience, you get the optimum results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know somebody who has, or are planning on giving hearing aids a try, you’ll want to continue reading. By being aware of the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can avert the same mistakes.
Below are the primary 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, just 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.
So, if you go with a device that amplifies all sound symmetrically, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will be affected, and you’ll still 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 at the same time.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capacity.
2. Faulty 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 over time, your hearing professional may have to adjust the settings.
Far too often, people give up too quickly, when all they need is some adjustment to the amplification settings. And, 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, most hearing aids are custom-shaped 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. In either case, this shouldn’t prevent you from attaining 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 think hearing aids will immediately return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for discouragement. Hearing aids will improve your hearing substantially, but it requires some time to get used to.
At the start, your hearing aids might 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 adapt, but not right away. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain properly adjusts to the sound.
Your perseverance will be worth it—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates increase to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
Patients with brand new hearing aids can come to be very easily overwhelmed in hectic, noisy environments with a lot of sound. This can happen for a couple different reasons.
First, if you immediately begin using your new hearing aid in loud settings—prior to giving yourself an opportunity to adapt to them at home—the sound can be overpowering. Try to adjust in tranquil environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for example.
Second, you’ll need to adjust to the loud environments too, in the same way you did at home. It’s common to have one bad experience and give up, but remember, your brain will adapt over time.
And finally, you might just need to update your hearing aids. The latest models are becoming significantly better at eliminating background noise and enhancing speech. You’ll want to reap the benefits 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 begin questioning if any of the above applies.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work out for somebody else doesn’t mean they won’t work out for you, especially if you work with a reputable hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a bad experience in the past yourself, maybe a clean start, improved technology, and professional care will make all the difference.