As hearing care professionals, there’s one specific type of hearing aid that we all worry about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can avert other people from even attempting to give hearing aids a chance.
They’re better-known as “in-the-drawer” hearing aids. In comparison to behind-the-ear or in-the-canal hearing aids, in-the-drawer hearing aids never see the light of day, demoralizing the patient and anyone the patient instructs about their substandard experience.
For the millions of individuals that have owned 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 numerous things that can go wrong, triggering an unsatisfactory experience and causing people to call it quits. But there are ways to prevent this, actions you can take to guarantee that, with a bit of patience, you get the best 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 keep reading. By recognizing the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can prevent the same mistakes.
The following are the most common reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Choosing the wrong hearing aid or device
Let’s start with the fact that everyone’s hearing is distinct. Your hearing loss, just like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. In addition, most people with hearing loss have greater challenges hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, as compared to other sounds.
Which means that, if you settle on a device that amplifies all sound uniformly, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will be affected, and you’ll still most likely be drowning out speech. You’ll need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the specific sounds and frequencies you have difficulty with, while suppressing background noise in the process.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capability.
2. Incorrect 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 inaccurate, or your hearing has changed through the years, your hearing professional may have to adjust the settings.
Far too often, people give up too soon, when all they need is some modification 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-molded to the contours 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 achieving better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids a chance to work
There are two problems here: 1) managing 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 disappointment. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing substantially, but it requires 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 years, and the amplification will sound “off.” Your brain will adapt, but not immediately. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain completely adapts to the sound.
Your persistence will be worth it—for patients who allow themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates escalate to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
Patients with new hearing aids can come to be easily overwhelmed in busy, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can occur for a couple different reasons.
First, if you right away begin using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—before giving yourself a chance to adjust to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. Make an effort to adjust in calmer environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for instance.
Second, you’ll need to adjust to the loud environments too, 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 over time.
And last, you might just need to upgrade your hearing aids. Newer models are becoming progressively better at eliminating background noise and boosting speech. You’ll want to reap the benefits 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 someone else doesn’t mean they won’t work out for you, especially if you work together with a trustworthy hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a negative experience in the past yourself, maybe a clean start, improved technology, and professional care will make all the difference.