As hearing care providers, there’s one specific style of hearing aid that we all get worried about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can prevent others from even making an attempt to give hearing aids an opportunity.
They’re better-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 tells about their bad experience.
For the millions of individuals that have acquired hearing aids, a good number will call it quits on the possibility of better hearing for one reason or another. However, with modern day technology, we know that this shouldn’t be the case.
But hearing aids can be tricky. There are numerous things that can go wrong, causing an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to stop trying. But there are ways to protect against this, steps you can take to ensure that, with a touch of patience, you get the best results.
If you’ve had a negative experience in the past, know somebody who has, or are considering giving hearing aids a try, you’ll want to continue reading. By knowing the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can eliminate the same mistakes.
Here are the primary reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Purchasing 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 individuals with hearing loss have greater difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, compared to other sounds.
So, if you select a device that amplifies all sound symmetrically, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will be affected, and you’ll continue to most likely be drowning out speech. You need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the precise sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise at the same time.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capability.
2. Inaccurate 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 incorrect, or your hearing has changed throughout the years, your hearing expert 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 might need the settings updated. Think of it like prescription glasses; when your vision changes, you update the prescription.
Also, most hearing aids are custom-shaped 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 acquiring better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids an opportunity 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 improve your hearing drastically, but it takes some time to get used to.
At the outset, your hearing aids may be uncomfortable and loud. This is typical; you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in many years, and the amplification will sound “off.” Your brain will adjust, but not over night. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain properly adapts to the sound.
Your patience will pay off—for patients who allow themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates increase to over 70 percent.
4. Not being able to hear in noisy environments
People with brand new hearing aids can become very easily overwhelmed in chaotic, noisy situations 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—prior to giving yourself an opportunity to adapt to them at home—the sound can be overpowering. Make an effort to adjust in calmer environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for instance.
Second, you’ll have to adjust to the loud environments as well, just like you did at home. It’s common to have one bad experience and give up, but remember, your brain will adapt in time.
And last, you might just need to update your hearing aids. Newer models are becoming progressively 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 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 wondering if any of the above is applicable.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work out for somebody else doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, particularly if you work with a reputable hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a bad experience in the past yourself, perhaps a clean start, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.