As hearing care professionals, there’s one particular style of hearing aid that we all get worried about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can deter others from even making an attempt to give hearing aids a chance.
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 unfavorable experience.
For the countless numbers of people that have acquired hearing aids, a good number will give up on the possibility of better 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, producing an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to give up. But there are ways to protect against this, actions you can take to make sure that, with a bit of patience, you get the best results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know somebody who has, or are pondering giving hearing aids a shot, you’ll want to continue reading. By becoming familiar with the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can avoid the same mistakes.
Here 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 different. Your hearing loss, like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. At the same time, most individuals with hearing loss have more challenges hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, as compared to other sounds.
Which means that, if you select a device that amplifies all sound uniformly, 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 specific sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise in the process.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capacity.
2. Improper hearing aid programming or fitting
Seeing as hearing loss is unique, the hearing aid must be custom-programmed for you exclusively. If the configurations are incorrect, or your hearing has changed through the years, your hearing expert may have to modify the settings.
Far too often, people give up too quickly, 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, most hearing aids are custom-formed 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. Either way, this shouldn’t prevent you from attaining 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 think hearing aids will instantly return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Hearing aids will improve your hearing substantially, but it requires some time to get used to.
In the early stages, your hearing aids might 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 persistence will be worth it—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates rise to over 70 percent.
4. Not being able to hear in noisy environments
Individuals with new hearing aids can become very easily overwhelmed in chaotic, 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 loud settings—before giving yourself a chance 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 need to adjust to the loud environments as well, in the same way you did at home. It’s common to have one bad experience and give up, but keep in mind, your brain will adapt in time.
And finally, you may just need to upgrade your hearing aids. The latest models are becoming progressively better at filtering out background noise and boosting speech. You’ll want to reap the benefits of the new technology as the rate 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 someone else doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t work for you, particularly if you work with a reputable hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a negative experience in the past yourself, maybe a fresh start, improved technology, and professional care will make all the difference.