As hearing care professionals, there’s one specific style of hearing aid that we all are worried about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can keep other people from even attempting 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, in-the-drawer hearing aids never see the light of day, demoralizing the patient and anyone the patient informs about their substandard experience.
For the countless numbers of individuals that have acquired hearing aids, a good quantity will give up on the possibility of better hearing for one reason or another. But with modern day technology, we know that this shouldn’t be the case.
But hearing aids are complicated. There are many things that can go wrong, causing a bad experience and causing people to stop trying. But there are ways to protect against this, actions you can take to ensure that, with a bit of patience, you get the optimal results.
If you’ve had a negative experience in the past, know somebody who has, or are considering giving hearing aids a shot, 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.
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 different. Your hearing loss, just like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. What is more, most individuals with hearing loss have greater challenges hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, as compared to other sounds.
And so, if you choose a device that amplifies all sound uniformly, 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 unique sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise in the process.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capability.
2. Inaccurate 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 professional may have to adjust the settings.
Far too frequently, people give up too quickly, when all they need 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-formed to the contours 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 accomplishing better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids a chance to work
There are two problems here: 1) controlling 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 discouragement. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing dramatically, but it takes 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 years, and the amplification will sound “off.” Your brain will adapt, but not over night. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain completely adapts to the sound.
Your perseverance will be worthwhile—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates skyrocket to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy surroundings
People with new hearing aids can come to be very easily overwhelmed in crowded, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can happen for a few reasons.
First, if you right away begin using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—before giving yourself an opportunity to adjust to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. See if you can adjust in tranquil environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for example.
Second, you’ll have to adjust to the loud environments as well, in the same way you did at home. It’s common to have one negative experience and give up, but remember, your brain will adapt after some time.
And last, you may just need to upgrade your hearing aids. Newer models are becoming significantly better at eliminating background noise and boosting speech. You’ll want to take advantage of the new technology as the pace 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 begin questioning if any of the above is applicable.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work out for somebody else doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t work for you, particularly if you work with a established hearing care provider. 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.