Q: Why is it that people have trouble with hearing aids?
Many people are reluctant to even try hearing aids because they’ve seen their family or friends be unsuccessful with them. However, with a good audiologist and current hearing aid technology, patients can avoid potential problems and experience the benefits hearing aids can provide. The three main reasons people are unsuccessful with hearing aids are:
- The hearing aids do not fit properly
- There hearing aids aren’t programmed accurately
- The hearing aid technology does not meet the person’s needs.
Hearing aids do not fix or repair hearing loss. They are mini computers programmed to compensate for a damaged hearing system. They amplify sound so that the brain can hear sounds it misses out on. Listening through a microphone sounds unnatural initially. It takes time for the brain to adapt to all these sounds again. The adaptation period can take weeks or even six months. The longer one’s hearing loss has gone untreated the longer it takes to adapt. However, once patients get used to the sounds and the sensation of using hearing aids it’s not uncommon for them to ask their audiologist to turn the hearing aids up. Their hearing may not have changed, but they’ve developed a greater level of comfort with the sounds. It’s important patients work with a provider who will help them throughout the adaptation and adjustment process.
Hearing loss is invisible. It generally doesn’t cause any pain or other physical ailments. It does, however, affect communication, safety, and cognitive processing. When people can’t communicate well they tend to isolate themselves, which may affect their emotional or mental health. Addressing hearing loss can have a huge impact on a person’s quality of life.
By finding a good audiologist, investing in the right hearing aid technology, and wearing hearing aids regularly, patients can enjoy the benefits of hearing better and keep their devices from collecting dust in a drawer.
—Caitlin Fernhoff, AuD
Caitlin Fernhoff holds a doctor of audiology degree. She specializes in the diagnosis and evaluation of hearing loss, hearing aid selection and programming, and balance assessment and Auditory Brainstem Response testing for adult and pediatric patients.