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 deter others from even trying to give hearing aids an opportunity.
They’re known as “in-the-drawer” hearing aids. As opposed to behind-the-ear or in-the-canal hearing aids, ITD 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 acquired hearing aids, a good amount will call it quits 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 tricky. There are many things that can go wrong, generating a negative experience and causing people to give up. But there are ways to prevent this, actions you can take to make sure that, with a touch of patience, you get the best results.
If you’ve had a negative experience in the past, know someone who has, or are planning on giving hearing aids a shot, you’ll want to continue reading. By recognizing the reasons some people give up on hearing aids, you can avoid the same mistakes.
Below are the main 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, just like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. At the same time, most people with hearing loss have greater difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, compared to other sounds.
So, if you choose a device that amplifies all sound symmetrically, 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 unique sounds and frequencies you have difficulty with, while suppressing background noise at the same time.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this capacity.
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 inappropriate, or your hearing has changed over time, your hearing professional may have to modify the settings.
Far too frequently, people give up too soon, when all they need is some modification to the amplification settings. And, 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, most hearing aids are custom-molded 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. 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 quickly.
If you think that hearing aids will immediately return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing drastically, but it takes some time to get used to.
At the start, your hearing aids may be uncomfortable and loud. This is normal; you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in many 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 properly adjusts to the sound.
Your patience will pay off—for patients who allow themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates rise to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy surroundings
Individuals with brand new hearing aids can become very easily overwhelmed in congested, noisy situations with a lot of sound. This can occur for a couple different reasons.
First, if you immediately start using your new hearing aid in loud settings—prior to giving yourself an opportunity to adjust to them at home—the sound can be overwhelming. Try to adjust in calmer environments before testing at a loud restaurant, for instance.
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 keep in mind, your brain will adapt after some time.
And last, you may just need to upgrade your hearing aids. The latest models are becoming progressively better at eliminating background noise and boosting speech. You’ll want to take advantage of the new technology as the speed 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 start wondering if any of the above applies.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work for somebody else doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, especially if you work together with a trustworthy hearing care provider. And if you’ve had a negative experience in the past yourself, maybe a fresh start, better technology, and professional care will make all the difference.