As hearing providers, there’s one specific style of hearing aid that we all get worried about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can avert other people from even making an effort 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, in-the-drawer hearing aids never see the light of day, discouraging the patient and anyone the patient tells about their inadequate experience.
For the millions of people that have acquired hearing aids, a good number will give up on the prospect of healthier hearing for one reason or another. However, with modern day technology, we know that this should not be the case.
But hearing aids can be complicated. There are several things that can go wrong, creating an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to stop trying. But there are ways to protect against this, actions you can take to make sure that, with a little patience, you get the best results.
If you’ve had a negative experience in the past, know somebody who has, or are pondering giving hearing aids a try, you’ll want to continue reading. By appreciating the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can avert the same mistakes.
Here are the primary 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, just like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. On top of that, most people with hearing loss have greater challenges hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, as compared to other sounds.
So, if you go with a device that amplifies all sound evenly, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will suffer, and you’ll still most likely be drowning out speech. You’ll need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the particular sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise simultaneously.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capacity.
2. Improper 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 incorrect, or your hearing has changed through the years, your hearing professional may have to modify 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 of it like prescription glasses; when your vision changes, you update the prescription.
Also, most 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. In either case, this shouldn’t prevent you from accomplishing better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids an opportunity to work
There are two problems here: 1) controlling expectations, and 2) giving up too quickly.
If you believe that hearing aids will immediately return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for a letdown. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing appreciably, but it requires some time to get used to.
At first, 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 adjust, but not immediately. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain completely adjusts to the sound.
Your patience will be worth it—for patients who allow themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates escalate to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy surroundings
People with new hearing aids can come to be very easily overwhelmed in congested, noisy environments with a lot of sound. This can occur for a couple different reasons.
First, if you immediately begin 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 tranquil environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for example.
Second, you’ll need to adjust to the loud environments too, just like you did at home. It’s typical to have one bad experience and give up, but keep in mind, your brain will adapt in time.
And finally, you may just need to update 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 pace 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 necessarily mean they won’t work for you, particularly if you work with a reputable hearing care provider. And if you’ve had a substandard experience in the past yourself, perhaps a fresh start, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.