Time to read: 10 minutes
This is part 3 of Christo's April EarTalk webinar. You can find the full video here.
- Part 1 What to ask at your first appointment
- Part 2 What to expect from your hearing aids if you're a new to them
- Part 3 Common mistakes first time users (and experienced users) can make
- Part 4 How to get the best from your hearing aids
Being too cautious
One I see often is, you give someone a hearing aid, they look at it and you tell them to take things apart and they are way too careful because the hearing aid looks flimsy, because it's got a thin wire or a tiny little thing but they're actually designed to be very strong.
Remember, these things need to last five or more years so they're not flimsy little devices which is part of why they cost so much.
They go through lots and lots of quality control, so don't be too scared to handle it.
If you break something, we can typically fix it. There's very little we can't fix, so be confident and try your best. If you break it, we'll fix it so don't be too careful.
Not using them enough
Not using hearing aids enough this is another common mistake where some people say, ‘oh I only have trouble when I go out socially, so I only wear them when I go out socially’. The problem with that is the hearing aid or your brain hasn't had time to accept the hearing aid as new normal.
So, you go from hearing very little for most of the day and then when you go out socially, where things are noisy, suddenly you hear a lot. The contrast between not hearing at all and hearing everything, is quite large and you go from not hearing to being overwhelmed by what you hear and you end up not doing very well in noise at all.
The idea behind a hearing aid is not to fix the ear, it's simply to correct for the damage in the ear on the outside, put that corrected sound through the damaged ear. The brain then relearns and reorganises to get the best benefit out of that hearing aid.
Wearing the hearing aid even in quiet, when there's no one, around you gives the brain information around what the environmental sounds are like, it can then rearrange so that when you find yourself in social or noisy situations you're not overwhelmed.
The best advice here is use the hearing aids all day every day. You're looking at at least 10 to 12 hours use a day and that way your brain is going to benefit the most possible.
Not asking questions
Here is another mistake people can make - most people are afraid to ask silly questions or to interrupt the audiologist who is really busy. Please, don't think that way. It's very important that you address any questions any issues you have with us.
We may have heard it a million times but it's the first time you get that question answered and it's you who’s going to wear the hearing aid, not us, so it's important that you're empowered to know how to deal with the issue that's concerning you and not keep it to yourself and hope it will go away.
Discuss it with your clinician. That's what we're here for. We're not just fitting hearing aids, it's about that service that support we can provide you to get the best possible outcome.
Not cleaning them properly
Yeah, I see this so many times. Hearing aids are designed to be worn in the ear which has wax, it's got oil, it's got moisture. To stop all of that damaging the hearing aid, because you've got a little speaker potentially sitting in your ear, and if all that moisture gets into the speaker, the hearing aids are going to break and replacing the speaker all the time could be very expensive.
So, the manufacturers have designed little things like wax traps and filters to capture the wax and stop it from getting up to the speaker, but if those traps block the sound can't get in your ear. To you, it seems like the hearing aids failed - you paid thousands and it's not working, it's rubbish. It's not that, it's simply a little filter you need to change which, hopefully, the clinician has gone through with you before and something that you do on a regular basis.
We normally recommend you clean the hearing aid at least once a week. We take things apart, take the dome off, take the mold off and clean that with the tools that clinician provides you and then change the little filters that's in the hearing aid.
There's no fixed time to replace the filters, it depends on the amount of wax and the kind of wax in your ears. But do change those on a regular basis so once you start seeing it block, you can mark that on a calendar and start getting a timing of when you need to change that filter so you can preempt the change.
Also Murphy's Law is going to dictate that filter is going to block when you least need it too, so if you've got a big wedding or big meeting planned, change the filter beforehand and don’t wait for Murphy to play his tricks on you.
Making mountains out of molehills
So many times, and I don't know how many clients elsewhere, might end up paying for new hearing aids but something simple is broken on the hearing aid.
We get people contacting us asking how much a new hearing aid is, and we look at their hearing aid that they only got in the last year, all it is is a little crack in the shell ,or break in the shell, or the little wires broken off.
And from your perspective, because you haven't experienced this before, think, ‘oh my hearing aids are ruined’. Very often it's something in the clinician or the clinic sees every day and it's a very simple, sometimes an in-house repair, so don't assume the worse.
Again, just ask that question and let us as professionals explore what your best and best value approach to the problem. Don't assume because things look bad that they are bad.
For instance my hearing aids - I've had the habit of putting them in my top pocket they went through the wash and dry twice and they're still okay, so it doesn't mean you've ruined them. So always ask and we can check things out for you and make sure things are okay.
We can get them repaired under warranty or out of warranty. There's a lot we can do even though it might not appear that way.
Not taking time for new habits to form
This comes into not using them enough. With hearing aids, it's a matter of integrating the hearing aid - the way you put it in your ears, the way you charge it or replace batteries, the way you clean it - into a regular scheduled habit and habit takes time to develop. Be sure to use them in the same pattern consistently for a long enough time to have that habit form.
Initially it's going to be very strange and it's going to be intrusive, but over time you'll actually just find it’s second nature, so keep at it. That's the key thing. Don't allow things that make the hearing aid distracting or impossible to use to bother you, rather speak to your clinician and they can typically make adjustments to make that easier for you.