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Having a reasonable expectation of what a hearing aid can do for you

Hearing aids are expensive and when you’ve spent a lot of money on a pair you expect them to fix your hearing problems. After all, that’s what they are for, to correct your hearing loss.

I remember (it’s probably about five years ago now) visiting an audiologist because I was struggling to hear at work and wanted to replace my pair of aging hearing aids. I didn’t really have a lot of money to splash on new aids but I knew I needed to do something to hear better. After having my hearing tested we talked about a couple of different aids that could be suitable and I couldn’t decide whether to go for the pair at £1500 or for the more expensive ones and I said something like, “I just need to hear everything at work”, to which the response was, “You need to have a realistic expectation of how well you are going to hear with these aids – you’ve got a pretty severe hearing loss”. I was pretty annoyed with that: I have to pay you £1500+ and have realistic expectations? Sounded like a cop-out to me.

But the audiologist was 100% right.

Hearing aids do an excellent job of modifying sounds so that they are audible but they can’t repair a damaged ear. For us with hearing loss the clarity of sounds is just as big a problem as the volume of them – you might hear stuff but you don’t understand it. This is especially true with sensorineural hearing loss, which is the most common type of loss.

It can be incredibly frustrating to spend money only to find that you still can’t hear some stuff that you want to. I am writing this because I get a lot of emails from people who are frustrated with their new aids and their audiologist and whilst it pains me to say it we really do have to have realistic expectations of what a hearing aid can do. Which is not to say that I think hearing aids are rubbish or anything like that – my hearing aids mean that I go from not being able to hear someone talking even if their mouth is right next to my ear to being able to hold conversations at short distances. They make a world of difference to me but there’s still stuff I can’t hear every day and that is frustrating.