In the beloved classic the “Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy and her traveling companions were quite surprised to find out what was behind the curtain. What seemed to be an “all-powerful wizard ” with impressive magic turned out to be a middle-aged man pulling on cranks and levers behind a curtain.
Reality didn’t match up with perception. It so often doesn’t.
Most people know this. It makes people understandably skeptical about claims about products, services and technologies especially when those claims come from people trying to sell something. On the other side of things, you may hear hearing aid myths. It’s hard to know what to believe.
So it’s time to cast aside the claims people make about hearing aids. Let’s take a look behind the curtain to see what a hearing aid wearer’s life is really like.
1. Sometimes You Get Feedback
No, not the kind you might receive on a work evaluation. “Feedback “ is a whistling sound that a speaker makes when its microphone picks up the sound coming from the speaker. It creates a sound loop that even modern speakers like those in hearing aids don’t know what to do with.
They may squeal like a speaker in the school auditorium during your first grader grandson’s class play.
While this may sound mortifying, and it is uncomfortable, it is rare when a hearing aid is properly maintained. If you’re experiencing it, the earmold may not be properly fitted or you need to replace it.
Additionally, if you opt for a very small hearing aid, these are more likely to have feedback because of the short distance between the speaker and microphone. Some advanced hearing aids have a feedback cancelation system that identifies feedback and stops it in its tracks.
2. You Can Follow Conversations in a Noisy Restaurant
Eating dinner out with family can feel like eating dinner alone if you have untreated hearing loss. It’s nearly impossible to follow the conversations. You might end up sitting there, nodding and smiling most of the night.
But hearing aids today have some pretty advanced technology that can drown out background noise. They bring the voices of your children and the servers into crystal clarity.
3. It Gets a Little Sticky Sometimes
Your body has a way of telling you when something doesn’t belong. If you eat something too spicy hot, you produce more saliva to rinse it out. If you get an eyelash in your eye, you produce tears to flush the eyeball. Your ears have their own way of getting rid of a nuisance.
They produce extra wax.
So it’s no surprise that people who wear hearing aids often get to deal with wax buildup. Fortunately, it’s just wax.
It’s generally clean even if it does feel disgusting. You’ll get very used to wiping it off your hearing aid or blowing it out of your hearing aid tubes on occasion.
Then you’ll just put that hearing aid back in and start enjoying your hearing again.
4. You Think More Clearly
This one may surprise you. When a hearing person develops hearing loss, it very slowly starts to impact brain function if they don’t get it treated quickly.
Fully understanding spoken language is one of the first things to go. Then memory, learning new things and problem-solving become a challenge.
Hearing aids today stop this brain atrophy. They re-train your brain. Studies show that they can slow down cognitive decline and even reverse it. In fact, one study reported by AARP showed 80% of people improve after treating their hearing loss.
5. You Need to Replace the Batteries
Many people simply hate dealing with those little button batteries. And they seem to run out of juice at the worst times. You’re at work. You’re at the park with friends.
But simple solutions exist to alleviate much of this perceived battery hassle. There are strategies you can use to significantly extend battery life. The batteries are small and inexpensive, so it’s easy to carry an extra set in your wallet.
On top of this, today you can buy rechargeable hearing aids. Just dock it on the charger at night. Put it back on in the morning. There are also solar powered hearing aid docks so you can even recharge your hearing aid while out camping, fishing or hiking.
6. There’s a Learning Curve
Today, hearing aids have advanced technology. It’s not as hard as learning to use a new computer. But it definitely takes a little time for your brain to adjust to the new hearing aids. At the same time, the hearing aids have to adjust to a new wearer.
Artificial intelligence helps them learn how you hear best. The longer and more consistently you wear hearing aids the better it gets. Try to be patient with yourself and the hearing aids during this transition.
Anyone who’s been wearing a set of hearing aids for 6 months or more will tell you that it’s worth it.
This is what it’s really like to wear hearing aids. Now that you’ve peeked behind the curtain, isn’t it time to find out for yourself.