This is a surprisingly common problem among hearing aid wearers, and there are many reasons why people fail to benefit fully from their hearing aids. All of them can be worked around, preferably before you start using the devices.
Becoming acclimatized to wearing hearing aids can be a disorienting experience. To be as successful as possible, hearing aids must be worn during all waking hours, starting from the day they are fitted.
There’s a good reason for this. When you start using hearing aids, your brain needs to reincorporate sounds that it may not have heard for many years. Patients can feel overwhelmed at how loud the world seems. In fact, years of hearing impairment can lead patients to forget that everything makes sounds, including dog nails on tile floors.
However, if you use a gradual “step-up” method (which increases the amount of gain/volume over a period of 30-45 days) new wearers often have a much easier time acclimating than adopting the full prescription on the day of their fitting. That’s why many manufacturers provide graduated fitting levels.
The behavior of patients can also have an impact. For example, many people feel that they only have to wear their hearing aids whenever they “need” to. Therefore, they tend to wear them in noisier environments which previously challenged their hearing, and not elsewhere, like at home.
When they do this, it can cause a sound overload to the brain, which has experienced auditory deprivation for many years. That’s why we advise patients to wear their hearing aids all day, every day.
However, in some cases, patients simply buy the wrong devices, or they stop working. We find that this applies to roughly 25% of cases. If patients purchase an inappropriate device for their specific form of hearing loss, this can lead to occlusion, resulting in poor sound quality.
In other cases, people aren’t aware of all the amazing features offered by their devices. They may not know how to connect their hearing aids to a smartphone or home stereo system – limiting its value. Our partnered audiologists will be happy to run through the features of any device, and the websites of manufacturers feature in-depth support sections, so connectivity issues need not occur.
Finally, some individuals just don’t like the style of their devices. Many times, patients are fitted with Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) devices which are the best option for their hearing loss, but stop using them when they become self-conscious about how the device looks. Instead of talking cosmetic concerns with their provider, they take the hearing aid home and slip it into a drawer.