As hearing providers, there’s one specific style of hearing aid that we all get worried about. It’s bad for the patient, and it can prevent other people from even making an effort to give hearing aids a try.
They’re better-known 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 tells about their bad experience.
For the countless numbers of individuals that have owned hearing aids, a good quantity will call it quits 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 several things that can go wrong, generating an undesirable experience and causing people to call it quits. But there are ways to protect against this, actions you can take to ensure that, with a touch of patience, you get the optimum results.
If you’ve had a negative experience in the past, know somebody who has, or are planning on 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.
Listed below are the most common reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Selecting 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. On top of that, most people with hearing loss have more difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, compared to other sounds.
Which means that, if you go with 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 targeted sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise at the same time.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capability.
2. Incorrect hearing aid programming or fitting
Given that hearing loss is unique, the hearing aid must be custom-programmed for you exclusively. If the configurations are inaccurate, or your hearing has changed through the years, your hearing expert may have to modify the settings.
Far too often, people give up too quickly, when all they require is some adjustment to the amplification settings. Additionally, if your hearing changes, you may 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-molded 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. In either case, this shouldn’t stop you from attaining better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids an opportunity to work
There are two problems here: 1) managing expectations, and 2) giving up too quickly.
If you think that hearing aids will instantly return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for discouragement. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing considerably, but it requires some time to get used to.
In the early stages, your hearing aids may be uncomfortable and loud. This is common; you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in many years, and the amplification will sound “off.” Your brain will adapt, but not immediately. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain fully adapts to the sound.
Your persistence will be worthwhile—for patients who allow themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates skyrocket to over 70 percent.
4. Not being able to hear in noisy surroundings
Individuals with brand new hearing aids can become easily overwhelmed in chaotic, noisy environments 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—prior to giving yourself a chance to adapt to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. See if you can adjust in quieter environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for example.
Second, you’ll have 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 keep in mind, your brain will adapt after some time.
And last, you might just need to upgrade your hearing aids. The latest models are becoming increasingly better at eliminating background noise and enhancing speech. You’ll want to reap the benefits of the new technology as the rate 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 applies.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work for someone else doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, particularly if you work together with a established hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a negative experience in the past yourself, maybe a clean start, improved technology, and professional care will make all the difference.