As hearing care professionals, there’s one particular style of hearing aid that we all are worried about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can stop others from even making an effort to give hearing aids a chance.
They’re described 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 instructs about their inadequate experience.
For the millions of people that have obtained hearing aids, a good amount will call it quits on the possibility 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 are tricky. There are many things that can go wrong, creating an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to stop trying. But there are ways to avoid this, steps you can take to make certain that, with a little 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 chance, you’ll want to continue reading. By learning about the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can avert the same mistakes.
Listed below are the main reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Choosing the wrong hearing aid or device
Let’s start with the fact that everyone’s hearing is different. Your hearing loss, 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.
And so, if you select a device that amplifies all sound evenly, 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 targeted sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise simultaneously.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capacity.
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 settings are inappropriate, or your hearing has changed over time, your hearing expert may have to adjust the settings.
Far too often, people give up too quickly, when all they need is some modification to the amplification settings. And, 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, most hearing aids are custom-formed 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. Either way, this shouldn’t stop you from attaining 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 immediately return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing drastically, but it requires some time to get used to.
In the early stages, 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 adapt, but not immediately. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain fully adapts to the sound.
Your perseverance will be worthwhile—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates rise to over 70 percent.
4. Not being able to hear in noisy environments
Individuals with new hearing aids can become very easily overwhelmed in congested, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can happen for a few reasons.
First, if you right away start using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—prior to giving yourself an opportunity to adapt to them at home—the sound can be overpowering. Try to adjust in quieter 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 common to have one negative experience and give up, but remember, your brain will adapt in time.
And finally, you might just need to upgrade your hearing aids. The latest models are becoming significantly better at filtering out background noise and boosting 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 begin wondering if any of the above applies.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work for somebody else doesn’t mean they won’t work out for you, particularly if you work together with a established hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a substandard experience in the past yourself, maybe a fresh start, improved technology, and professional care will make all the difference.