Many times, people get the best hearing aid they can afford. However, they are not happy with the result and will tell others that it was a waste of money and that it didn’t work. There are many reasons why this can happen. Here are a few.
- ‘Brain’ hearing ability:
In order for us to hear, our brain must be able to use the message it receives from the hearing nerve. So imagine the hearing pathways in the brain as a dirt road in the country side. If you drive down the road every day, the road will stay clear. However, if you stop driving down the road, weeds grow and it becomes very difficult to drive through. Sometimes people wait longer than they should to get a hearing device. By the time they get it, the road for sound has been overtaken. No matter how good the technology, the brain simply can’t cope with background noise and group conversation. The best hearing aids will have technology to support the brain. However, for some people, the damage may be difficult to overcome. They may not get the result they expected.
- Unrealistic expectations
Many people expect that if they get the best hearing aids available, they should be able to hear zero background noise and hear every bit of conversation all of the time. If this is your expectation then of course you will believe they don’t work! These expectations are unrealistic even with normal hearing. The technology available will reduce background noise making it less intrusive and more comfortable. This is a comparison with hearing aids with less technology. However, you will still hear background noise, just as people with normal hearing do. You should be able to hear a person speaking about two people away either side of you and opposite you. Will you hear the person at the end of a 10 person table in a crowded cafe? Not likely! Hearing devices are an aid to better hearing, they will not give you superhero hearing.
- A little bit of effort for a lot of reward
Many times the hearing aid user themselves may feel like the hearing aids are not working. They can be frustrated with the physical discomfort of wearing devices and resentment at having to manage them. This gives them a negative perspective on the effectiveness of the hearing aids. However, if you ask their friends, family and partner, the response may be completely different. These are often the people impacted by the effects of the hearing loss. They will observe that communication has become a whole lot easier, they will feel relief and reduced frustration. The hearing aid user won’t be saying ‘pardon’ so often, the TV volume will be right down and they will observe their loved one re-entering social situations and group conversation. Often, the hearing aid user has underestimated the impact of these hearing issues on their life. They sometimes instantly take these benefits for granted and focus on what hearing aid use is ‘costing’ them in money, time and effort.
- The brand of the hearing aid
Different brands can cater to different preferences. There are many different hearing aid brands available, an independent provider will have anywhere between 3-7 brands available to them. Many providers are not independent, they are owned by a hearing aid manufacturer. These providers will only have one brand at their disposal. An experienced, independent provider will know the pros and cons of different brands and will decide what brand they think will suit. If one hearing aid doesn’t work for you, it can be worthwhile trying a different brand to see if this gives you a better result
- The expertise of the person who fitted it
Just like with music taste, everyone experiences sound differently. You might like to hear every bird in the trees and every footstep. However, the next person may like a softer, warmer sound with less detail. A good, experienced audiologist will ask you questions about your hearing concerns and will use this information to adjust the aid appropriately for you. They will be able to make fine tuning adjustments based on your feedback to get the sound just the way you like it. Everything from the tone and loudness to the management of whistling and noise reduction can be adjusted. If you feel like the hearing aids are not working, always be honest and as accurate as possible in your feedback to the audiologist. This will lead to a much better result.