As hearing providers, there’s one particular type of hearing aid that we all get worried about. It’s detrimental for the patient, and it can keep other people from even trying to give hearing aids a chance.
They’re called “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 inadequate experience.
For the countless numbers of individuals that have obtained hearing aids, a good quantity will call it quits on the prospect 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 complicated. There are several things that can go wrong, leading to an undesirable experience and causing people to call it quits. But there are ways to avoid this, steps you can take to assure that, with a touch of patience, you get the optimal results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know somebody who has, or are considering giving hearing aids a chance, you’ll want to keep reading. By understanding the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can prevent the same mistakes.
The following are the main reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Choosing the wrong hearing aid or device
Let’s begin with the fact that everyone’s hearing is distinct. Your hearing loss, just like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. In addition, most individuals with hearing loss have more difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, 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’ll need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the precise sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise in the process.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this ability.
2. Inaccurate hearing aid programming or fitting
Since hearing loss is unique, the hearing aid must be custom-programmed for you exclusively. If the configurations are incorrect, or your hearing has changed over time, your hearing professional may have to modify the settings.
Far too frequently, people give up too quickly, when all they need is some modification to the amplification settings. Additionally, if your hearing changes, you may 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-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 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 substantially, but it requires some time to get used to.
At the start, your hearing aids may be uncomfortable and loud. This is common; you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in many years, and the amplification will sound “off.” Your brain will adjust, but not right away. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain fully adapts to the sound.
Your patience will be worth it—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates escalate to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
Patients with brand new hearing aids can become very easily overwhelmed in congested, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can occur for a few reasons.
First, if you immediately begin using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—before giving yourself an opportunity to adjust to them at home—the sound can be overpowering. Try to adjust in tranquil environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for example.
Second, you’ll have 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 remember, your brain will adapt after some time.
And finally, you may just need to update your hearing aids. The latest models are becoming progressively better at eliminating background noise and enhancing speech. You’ll want to take advantage 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 somebody else doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, especially if you work with a reputable hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a bad experience in the past yourself, perhaps a fresh start, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.