As hearing care professionals, there’s one specific style of hearing aid that we all worry about. It’s bad for the patient, and it can prevent other people from even attempting to give hearing aids an opportunity.
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 substandard experience.
For the millions of people 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 are complicated. There are several things that can go wrong, generating a negative experience and causing people to stop trying. But there are ways to protect against this, steps you can take to make certain that, with a little patience, you get the optimal 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 understanding 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. Investing in the wrong hearing aid or device
Let’s begin with the fact that everyone’s hearing is different. Your hearing loss, just like your fingerprint, is also unique to you. On top of that, most people with hearing loss have greater challenges hearing higher-pitched sounds, like speech, compared to other sounds.
As a result, if you select a device that amplifies all sound uniformly, like most personal sound amplifiers, sound quality will suffer, and you’ll continue to most likely be drowning out speech. You’ll need a hearing aid that is programmed to amplify the particular sounds and frequencies you have trouble with, while suppressing background noise in the process.
Only programmable digital hearing aids have this ability.
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 settings are inappropriate, or your hearing has changed over the years, 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. 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-shaped 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 prevent you from achieving better hearing.
3. Not giving hearing aids a chance to work
There are two problems here: 1) controlling expectations, and 2) giving up too soon.
If you think that hearing aids will immediately return your hearing to normal, you’re setting yourself up for a letdown. Hearing aids will enhance your hearing appreciably, but it requires some time to get used to.
In the beginning, 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 over night. Plan on giving your hearing aids about 6-8 weeks before your brain properly adjusts to the sound.
Your persistence will be worthwhile—for patients who give themselves time to adjust, satisfaction rates increase to over 70 percent.
4. Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
Patients with brand new hearing aids can become very easily overwhelmed in crowded, noisy environments with a lot of sound. This can happen for a few reasons.
First, if you right away begin using your new hearing aid in noisy settings—prior to giving yourself an opportunity 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 example.
Second, you’ll need to adjust to the loud environments as well, just like you did at home. It’s typical to have one bad experience and give up, but remember, your brain will adapt over time.
And finally, you might just need to upgrade 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 start wondering if any of the above applies.
The fact that hearing aids didn’t work out for somebody else doesn’t mean they won’t work out for you, particularly 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.