By Robert L. Martin
If you have never worn hearing aids, it will take some time before you understand them. They are not like any other medical or electronic device. Some people try to compare hearing aids to cell phones or computers, but these comparisons are not valid.
In writing this article, I asked one of my female patients how I should describe hearing aids to the women reading it. She thought for a moment then said, “Getting hearing aids is like getting a wedding dress.”
I thought for a while, then asked, “How? Why?”
“Well,” she said, “You want the wedding dress to be perfect. It is a big deal. You talk to your friends, go shopping, and finally find one you like and you can afford. Then you go through the process of having it fitted. Adjustments are made. You try it on several times. After a considerable amount of work, it is fabulous! Just what you want! But a couple of years later, it no longer fits. You have changed.”
THE NATURE OF HEARING AIDS
In this introductory article I want to discuss the nature of hearing aids. If you happen to have a working knowledge of electronics, this information will be helpful. But hearing aids are a one-of-a-kind apparatus and it is often the “small” things that become critically important, not the “big” things.
The practical side of hearing aid use is crucial. Most of this information is common sense, e.g., don’t let hairspray get on your hearing aids. Some tasks are best done by professionals, e.g., keeping your ears clean. And some tasks are done by your Audiologist, e.g., programming the sound to make it comfortable.
Because hearing aids are so unique, it takes some time to introduce them to people who have never worn them.
This is the first in a series of articles designed to help you use hearing aids successfully. These articles will teach you how to fix simple hearing aid problems at home. My goal is to make you aware of simple common problems so you can solve them easily. I want you to enjoy wearing your hearing aids.
With hearing aids, you only get one strike
There is one unique aspect of hearing aids that you need to understand: It does not take much to make a hearing aid non-functional.
Let me explain this concept with a “One strike, you’re out” teaching analogy. In the game of baseball, you get three opportunities to hit the ball. Each time you swing at the ball and miss it’s a “strike.” You get three strikes before you’re out. But, when you use hearing aids, a single defect (one strike) often destroys the usefulness of the hearing aid.
Consider these four simple problems:
- A dead battery
- The sound tube is plugged
- The ear is plugged
- The switch is in the wrong position
If a hearing aid has any of these problems, it doesn’t matter how much time and work you and your Audiologist put into the hearing aid. It is not going to work! All aspects of the hearing aid have to be working properly for you to enjoy the benefits of amplification. You need to avoid the first strike. You need to know how to fix each “little” problem.
This series of articles is designed to help you quickly and easily avoid the “one strike” dilemma by discussing common problems and their solutions. It is my goal to help you wear and enjoy hearing aids without interruption.