As hearing care professionals, there’s one specific type of hearing aid that we all get worried about. It’s bad for the patient, and it can stop others from even trying to give hearing aids a try.
They’re 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, discouraging the patient and anyone the patient informs about their inadequate experience.
For the countless numbers of individuals that have obtained hearing aids, a good number will call it quits on the prospect of healthier hearing for one reason or another. But with modern day technology, we know that this should not be the case.
But hearing aids can be tricky. There are several things that can go wrong, producing a bad 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 touch 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 learning about the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can avert the same mistakes.
The following are the primary reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Purchasing 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. Additionally, most individuals with hearing loss have more difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, compared to other sounds.
As a result, if you decide on 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 targeted sounds and frequencies you have difficulty with, while suppressing background noise at the same time.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capacity.
2. Faulty 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 over time, your hearing professional may have to adjust the settings.
Far too often, people give up too soon, 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-molded to the curves 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 achieving 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 instantly return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for discouragement. Hearing aids will improve your hearing appreciably, but it requires some time to get used to.
At the outset, 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 over night. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain completely adapts to the sound.
Your patience will be worth it—for patients who allow themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates increase to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy surroundings
People with brand new hearing aids can become very easily overwhelmed in congested, noisy environments with a lot of sound. This can happen for a couple different reasons.
First, if you right away start using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—prior to giving yourself an opportunity to adjust to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. Make an effort to adjust in quieter 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 negative experience and give up, but remember, your brain will adapt over time.
And finally, 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 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 is applicable.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work out for someone else doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, especially 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, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.