How to Make the Most of Your Hearing Aids

     

     

     

How to Make the Most
of Your Hearing Aids

     

     

Choosing the right hearing aid is important, but since modern hearing aids come with a wide range of advanced features, every hearing aid wearer should learn how to get the most out of these high-tech devices as well. Make the most of your hearing aids and enjoy all its advanced features with this helpful guide from hear.com's expert audiologist, Danette Baker, Au.D.


Why do so many people purchase hearing aids, only to stop using them?

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.

What can patients do if their hearing aid is not comfortable? Can they return it to their provider or choose an alternative device?

The answer to this question can vary. If patients are still within their 45-day trial period, they can easily let their provider know about their comfort issues and get re-fitted.

In these cases, it's best to be specific and let the provider know exactly why the hearing aid is causing discomfort. For instance, if it is a RIC, simply changing the wire size and domes could resolve the issue. Or in the case of custom devices, they may take a new impression and have the hearing aid remade. This should be carried out free of charge during its first year of use.

In cases where there is a fundamental fitting issue, patients may also be able to exchange a hearing aid from one manufacturer with an equivalent device from another.

If you need to wear a hearing aid, what are the consequences of not doing so?

There can be many harmful consequences of not wearing a hearing aid when it is medically advised to do so.

Firstly, a patient's hearing loss is likely to worsen. They may also experience deepening social isolation as conversations become more difficult to follow. Family matters can be complicated by hearing loss as well, with impaired communication coupled with the stress of constant misunderstanding.

Additionally, recent research by Dr. Franki Lin at Johns Hopkins University has found that untreated hearing loss increases the incidence of cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. Therefore, there are serious implications for those who have hearing loss but fail to seek appropriate assistance. By not wearing hearing aids, people living with hearing loss are missing out on richer experiences, whether they are cultural, professional or social.

What are some tips to getting the most out of hearing aids?

First, it’s essential to wear your hearing aids every day. Consistent, everyday use will allow the wearer to become acclimated to sounds they may have forgotten. It helps to discuss this with your audiologist before the fitting, as they can set realistic expectations and dispel any concerns about getting used to wearing these new devices.

However, some new wearers experience sensitivity, making a gradual process more appropriate. In these cases, wearers can begin by wearing their hearing aids for 4 hours per day, and only indoors. After several days, they can then gradually increase the amount of time they wear their devices. By doing this, hearing aid wearers will gradually become used to the feeling of wearing a hearing aid in their ear as well as the sensation of hearing new sounds.

Consistent follow-up is another crucial part of getting the most from hearing aids. By returning to their provider on a regular basis, wearers can adjust the hearing aid's settings, achieving a volume level that best suits their needs. Most hearing aids have a variety of pre-set programs for different situations, and an audiologist will be able to calibrate these programs to help ease the new wearer into using the device daily.

It's also important to remember hearing aid maintenance. During your fitting, your audiologist will explain how to keep your devices clean, and it's essential to follow these instructions. That way, you can minimize the risk of device failure, which is a key reason why patients discard their hearing aids.

Find your perfect hearing with hear.com

If you need hearing aids and want to get the most out of your new devices, our network of over 1,600 Partner Providers (audiologists and hearing care specialists) across the US will provide you with the support you need.

There's no need to be one of the millions of Americans who fail to seek help for their hearing. Contact us today and we’ll get you in touch with one of our hearing aid experts for a free, personal phone consultation. It’s time to get more out of life through better hearing. We can't wait to help.