As hearing professionals, there’s one specific type of hearing aid that we all worry about. It’s bad for the patient, and it can keep others from even trying to give hearing aids an opportunity.
They’re better-known as “in-the-drawer” hearing aids. Compared with 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 instructs about their less than ideal experience.
For the countless numbers of people that have owned hearing aids, a good amount will call it quits on the prospect 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 numerous things that can go wrong, creating a bad experience and causing people to call it quits. But there are ways to avoid this, steps you can take to ensure that, with a bit of patience, you get the optimum results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know someone who has, or are considering giving hearing aids a shot, you’ll want to continue reading. By appreciating the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can eliminate the same mistakes.
Here are the most common 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, 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.
For that reason, 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 targeted sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise at the same time.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this ability.
2. Faulty hearing aid programming or fitting
Seeing as hearing loss is unique, the hearing aid must be custom-programmed for you exclusively. If the settings are inaccurate, or your hearing has changed over the years, your hearing expert may have to adjust the settings.
Far too often, people give up too soon, when all they require is some adjustment 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-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 stop you from acquiring better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids a chance to work
There are two problems here: 1) controlling expectations, and 2) giving up too soon.
If you think hearing aids will instantly return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for a letdown. Hearing aids will improve your hearing considerably, but it takes some time to get used to.
At first, your hearing aids may be uncomfortable and loud. This is typical; you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in 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 adjusts to the sound.
Your persistence will be worthwhile—for patients who allow themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates skyrocket to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
Patients with new hearing aids can come to be very easily overwhelmed in congested, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can happen for a couple different reasons.
First, if you immediately start using your new hearing aid in loud settings—prior to giving yourself a chance to adjust to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. Try to adjust in quieter environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for example.
Second, you’ll have to adjust to the loud environments too, in the same way you did at home. It’s common to have one negative experience and give up, but keep in mind, your brain will adapt in time.
And last, you might just need to update your hearing aids. Newer 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 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 begin asking yourself if any of the above applies.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t work for you, especially if you work 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.