As hearing professionals, there’s one particular style of hearing aid that we all are worried about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can deter other people from even attempting to give hearing aids a chance.
They’re regarded 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 substandard experience.
For the countless numbers of people that have purchased hearing aids, a good amount will give up on the possibility of better hearing for one reason or another. But with today’s advanced technology, we know that this should not be the case.
But hearing aids are complicated. There are many things that can go wrong, triggering a bad experience and causing people to stop trying. But there are ways to avoid this, steps you can take to ensure that, with a touch of patience, you get the optimum results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know someone who has, or are planning on 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 avoid the same mistakes.
The following are the principal reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Investing in the wrong hearing aid or device
Let’s begin with the fact that everyone’s hearing is unique. Your hearing loss, like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. What is more, most people with hearing loss have greater 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 suffer, and you’ll continue to most likely be drowning out speech. You need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the targeted sounds and frequencies you have trouble 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 exclusively. If the settings are incorrect, or your hearing has changed over the years, your hearing professional may have to adjust the settings.
Far too frequently, people give up too soon, when all they need is some modification to the amplification settings. Additionally, 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, nearly all hearing aids are custom-shaped 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. 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) managing 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 a letdown. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing dramatically, 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 adapt, but not right away. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain completely adapts to the sound.
Your patience will pay off—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates skyrocket to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy surroundings
Patients with new hearing aids can come to be very easily overwhelmed in congested, noisy environments with a lot of sound. This can happen for a few reasons.
First, if you immediately start using your new hearing aid in loud settings—prior to giving yourself an opportunity to adapt to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. Make an effort to adjust in quieter 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 common to have one negative 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 progressively better at eliminating background noise and boosting speech. You’ll want to take advantage 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 start asking yourself if any of the above applies.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work out for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t work for you, especially if you work with a reputable hearing care provider. And if you’ve had a negative experience in the past yourself, maybe a clean start, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.