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Utah: 435-688-8991 Nevada: 702-896-0031

How to Succeed With Hearing Aids

 

How to Succeed With Hearing Aids“Is it possible to succeed with hearing aids?” This is a question we often receive at our clinic. Many of us know people that have struggled with hearing aids – maybe a parent, sibling, spouse, friend, or maybe even ourselves. Sometimes seeing the struggles of others makes people nervous to try hearing aids themselves. Sometimes this reservation is the biggest obstacle preventing people from getting help. The answer to this question is that it is possible to succeed with hearing aids. We have found at our clinic that success with hearing aids often depends on a few key factors, each of which will be briefly discussed below.

The first key is to choose the right clinic. This is typically the most important factor for success. As a patient, you want to be sure to choose a clinic where you are comfortable. You want to choose an audiologist that is competent, qualified, and able to perform accurate diagnostic testing. The highest credentialed professionals in this field have a Doctor of Audiology degree (an “Au.D.”). It is also important that your audiologist is willing to listen to you and take care of your listening needs for the long-term. Hearing aids, unlike glasses, require long-term maintenance and care. For best results, hearing aids should be checked, cleaned, and tuned regularly. Hearing aids should not be treated as a commodity, sold off the shelf never to be cared for again. Beware of clinics only interested in selling a product and not taking care of your long-term listening needs.

The second key is to begin the hearing aid process with realistic expectations. It is important to understand that a hearing aid will never be as good as the natural ear. If you expect perfection, you will be disappointed. Hearing aids will help to improve your hearing in nearly all listening environments – they have really come a long way – but they can never replace the natural system. Another part of having realistic expectations is understanding that hearing aids take time to get used to. Physically, we are not accustomed to having things in our ears and it may take a few days for the body to become adjusted to wearing a device. Acoustically, listening through a hearing aid sounds different than our natural hearing. It is sometimes described as listening to life through a microphone. It often sounds “tinny” and “sharp.” This unusual sound quality is normal for a hearing aid and typically takes 3 weeks or more for an individual to adjust to. Amazingly, our brains are very adaptable and the strange sound quality fades and becomes normal over time. Understanding this process up front is critical for success.

The third key is the selection of appropriate devices. It is important to choose devices that can appropriately amplify your hearing loss, meet your lifestyle needs, and that fit within your budget. Some key features to look for include durability (water and dust resistant), feedback suppression, and reserve power (in case the hearing loss were to get worse over time). However, the selection of the devices is much less important than the first two keys. If a patient selects a great clinic and has realistic expectations there is a wide range of hearing aids with which that patient could be successful.

How to Succeed With Hearing Aids (2)Finally, the last key to success is to treat the problem sooner rather than later. The longer the duration of the hearing loss, the poorer the patient typically performs with hearing aids. Most of the research done in this area has been done with cochlear implants. The studies suggest that if the auditory nerve is not being stimulated with consistent sound, the nerve will atrophy. Once this atrophy has occurred, there is no bringing back its function. Treating the problem early is the best way to ensure long-term auditory processing ability.

Is it possible to succeed with hearing aids? The answer is yes. And the keys to success are: 1) Choose the right clinic 2) Have realistic expectations 3) Select appropriate devices and 4) Treat the problem early. At Hearing & Balance Doctors of Utah we have great success when we follow this model. If you would like to experience success with hearing aids, please schedule a time to meet with one of our doctors today.