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 keep other people from even making an effort to give hearing aids a try.
They’re called “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, discouraging the patient and anyone the patient tells about their unfavorable experience.
For the countless numbers of individuals that have acquired hearing aids, a good number will call it quits on the prospect of healthier hearing for one reason or another. However, with today’s advanced technology, we know that this shouldn’t be the case.
But hearing aids can be complicated. There are numerous 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 certain that, with a touch of patience, you get the optimum results.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, know someone who has, or are thinking about giving hearing aids a try, you’ll want to continue reading. By appreciating the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can avoid the same mistakes.
Below are the principal reasons people give up on hearing aids.
1. Purchasing the wrong hearing aid or device
Let’s begin with the fact that everyone’s hearing is distinct. Your hearing loss, like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. On top of that, most individuals with hearing loss have more difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, compared to other sounds.
Which means that, if you go with a device that amplifies all sound symmetrically, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will suffer, and you’ll still most likely be drowning out speech. You’ll need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the unique sounds and frequencies you have difficulty with, while suppressing background noise in the process.
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 specifically. If the settings are incorrect, or your hearing has changed throughout 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 adjustment to the amplification settings. Additionally, 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-molded to the contours 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 stop you from achieving better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids an opportunity to work
There are two problems here: 1) managing 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 requires some time to get used to.
At the start, 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 right away. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain completely adapts to the sound.
Your patience will pay off—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates skyrocket to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy surroundings
Patients with new hearing aids can become very easily overwhelmed in busy, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can happen 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 adapt to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. See if you can adjust in quieter environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for example.
Second, you’ll need to adjust to the loud environments as well, in the same way you did at home. It’s typical to have one bad experience and give up, but remember, your brain will adapt over time.
And last, you might just need to upgrade your hearing aids. Newer models are becoming significantly 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 start questioning if any of the above applies.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work out for somebody else doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t work for you, especially if you work together with a reputable hearing care professional. And if you’ve had a substandard experience in the past yourself, perhaps a fresh start, improved technology, and professional care will make all the difference.