At some point in time, all of us have probably known someone that bought a set of hearing aids that ended up unused in a dresser drawer. Because this is so common, many people are jaded about the use of hearing aids, especially when taking the cost into consideration. So what is it that makes some people succeed with hearing aids, and others fail?
Not everyone is a good candidate for hearing aids. Hearing loss can have a variety of causes, some of which are treated medically rather than therapeutically with hearing aids. To determine if you are a good candidate for hearing aids, you need to be evaluated by a qualified audiologist who understands when hearing aids are an appropriate treatment. Through experience and extensive training, I have found that once you are fitted with hearing aids, your success is based just as much on the quality of your follow-up care as it is on the technology in the hearing aids.
All of my patients undergo what is called a “retraining period” after they are fitted with their aids. Typically when someone wears hearing aids for the first time, it has been years since they heard normally (on average, people wait for 7 years to do anything about their hearing loss). That means that the brain has gone day-in, day-out for several years without stimulation in the areas where they are missing sounds. To be successful with hearing aids, we have found that it takes about 75 days for the brain to gradually acclimate to the new sounds that the hearing aids are allowing you to hear. With that in mind, I see most of my patients every 2 weeks for the first 75 days that they have their aids. During those appointments we fine-tune the aids based on what the patient has experienced, and do measurements that allow us to confirm that the hearing aids are allowing the patient to hear the sounds that they should be hearing.
This level of follow-up care is uncommon in the hearing industry. In most cases, you are fit with the aids and maybe scheduled for a single follow-up. More often, you are told to “call if you need anything”. We view better hearing as a therapeutic process, and it is because of this that our patients are consistently satisfied with their ability to hear better in the situations that they care about the most.