As hearing care professionals, there’s one particular type of hearing aid that we all are concerned about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can avert other people from even attempting to give hearing aids an opportunity.
They’re described as “in-the-drawer” hearing aids. Compared with 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 unpleasant experience.
For the countless numbers of people that have acquired hearing aids, a good amount will give up on the possibility of healthier 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, generating an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to give up. But there are ways to protect against this, actions you can take to make certain that, with a bit of patience, you get the optimal results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know someone who has, or are thinking about 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 main reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Investing in the wrong hearing aid or device
Let’s start with the fact that everyone’s hearing is distinct. Your hearing loss, like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. What is more, most people with hearing loss have more difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, as compared to other sounds.
Which means that, if you decide on a device that amplifies all sound symmetrically, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will suffer, and you’ll continue to most likely be drowning out speech. You need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the particular sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise in the process.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capability.
2. Improper hearing aid programming or fitting
Given that hearing loss is unique, the hearing aid must be custom-programmed for you specifically. If the settings are inaccurate, or your hearing has changed throughout the years, your hearing expert may have to adjust the settings.
Far too often, people give up too soon, when all they need is some modification to the amplification settings. And, if your hearing changes, you might need the settings updated. Think about 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 some time to get used to or you may need a new mold. Either way, this shouldn’t stop 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 soon.
If you think hearing aids will immediately return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for a letdown. Hearing aids will improve your hearing appreciably, but it requires some time to get used to.
At the start, your hearing aids may 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 adjust, but not immediately. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain properly adapts to the sound.
Your patience will be worthwhile—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates skyrocket to over 70 percent.
4. Not being able to hear in noisy surroundings
People with new hearing aids can become very easily overwhelmed in hectic, noisy environments with a lot of sound. This can occur for a couple different reasons.
First, if you immediately start using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—before giving yourself an opportunity to adapt to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. Make an effort to adjust in tranquil environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for instance.
Second, you’ll have to adjust to the loud environments too, in the same way you did at home. It’s typical to have one bad experience and give up, but remember, your brain will adapt after some time.
And finally, you might just need to upgrade your hearing aids. The latest models are becoming increasingly better at filtering out background noise and boosting speech. You’ll want to take advantage 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 asking yourself if any of the above applies.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work for somebody else doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t work out for you, especially if you work with a trustworthy hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a bad experience in the past yourself, maybe a clean start, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.