If at first you don't succeed...

woman outdoors playing with children
SUCCESS STORY

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED...

BY AMBER STALLWORTH, AUD - MARCH 10, 2022

 

 

Most hearing loss doesn’t happen all at once, it happens gradually over time. Likewise, hearing better with the help of hearing aids should be viewed as a journey and not a single event. While it’s possible that some people will immediately reap the benefits of and be completely satisfied with the changes to their hearing when they first use hearing aids, it’s far more common for it to take some time for your brain to adjust. You should expect a period of adjustment, known as ‘adaptation’, for your brain to relearn how to process sounds that it hasn’t heard in a while.

The same could be said for how hearing aids feel when you first put them in. This is going to be a new sensation for most people (having something actually in their ear canal), and you may need some time to adjust to the feeling. But this is also where your welcome call and ongoing support from our team of licensed hearing professionals are extremely valuable. Our team is here to work with you, discuss what is working, and what you might need help with in regards to your hearing, your hearing aids, and our mobile app.

As an audiologist, and one of the many licensed hearing professionals at Eargo, it’s part of my job to help people navigate through the world of hearing.  We’re here not only to provide education and help with our hearing aids, but we’re also here to set expectations and help guide people on their journey to better hearing.  For some, it’s an easy journey with better hearing right out of the gate. For most others, it’s a marathon.  But no matter which path you may be on, the shared goal is to have you hearing life to the fullest!

On average, it takes a person about 7 years to take action once they realize they have some hearing loss.  Once you’ve accepted that you need assistance hearing, you’re moving in the right direction towards better hearing. Our customers have told us that two of the main driving factors for them were the desire to communicate more with others, and the impact their hearing loss has on those around them. So, whether you’re already wearing Eargos or are still considering getting hearing aids—congratulations! You’ve already taken a HUGE first step towards better hearing. Just don’t be discouraged if things aren’t perfect the first time that you put them in. 

This makes me think about one of my clients, Mrs. Jones*.   All she wanted was to be able to communicate with her twin grandsons.  They were the light of her life, but she couldn’t understand them because of her hearing loss.  Her growing frustration had her looking for a solution that was discreet and rechargeable, and when she found out that she could speak with a hearing professional from the comfort of her own home, she was willing to give Eargos a try.  When she received them, she eagerly plugged them in, charged them, put them in her ears, and was very quickly overwhelmed!  

When I initially spoke with Mrs. Jones, she was discouraged and frustrated

She said to me, “I had high hopes for these, but they did not help at all.”  We talked about her initial experience, concerns, and what seemed ‘off’ to her.  She explained that her Eargos didn’t feel comfortable, her ears felt like they were stopped up, the devices were emitting a whistling noise, and sounds were not clear.  She also mentioned that she wasn’t comfortable with technology and didn’t know what to do with the mobile app. 

The first thing we addressed was how they fit in her ear– because if hearing aids aren’t comfortable they won’t get worn. Resolving that addressed the whistling and feedback she had been hearing.  Feedback can occur for several reasons, but usually poor fit is the reason. (And if different insertion techniques didn’t solve the fit problem, we could have tried different tips. Sometimes the combination of the shape of an ear and a different shaped tip can help, too. You can read more about that here.)     

We then worked on doing something about her ‘stopped up feeling’.  This is a very common occurrence with hearing aids called the occlusion effect.   I told her that this will typically go away with time as her brain adjusts to wearing hearing aids (and the unique design of our tips can help, too). We agreed to check back after a period of time to see how that was going.

Hearing aids are a family affair

It was at this point that I encouraged Mrs. Jones to get her family involved because better hearing is a family affair. We’ve found that if a client has the support and buy-in from their family, they tend to be more successful.  

Since the default settings that her Eargos came with weren’t working out well for her I worked with her and her husband to set up our mobile app.  After quickly getting it installed, I had her run through our Sound Match program which allows everyone to tailor their Eargos to their hearing preferences. Once completed, she applied the new settings with just a few taps in the mobile app.

Eargo Sound Match on phone screen

Eargo Sound Match

 

So, with a better fit and new settings she should be good to go, right? Not yet. As I said, better hearing is a family affair so I spoke with her and her husband about the adjustment period and what to expect.  We also discussed communication strategies not only for the hearing aid wearer but for those they are communicating with.  This helps to build better communication habits and can make the use of hearing aids even more successful.  At the end of this call, Mrs. Jones felt more comfortable because she knew what to expect, and it eased the frustration from her initial use.  

Does this mean that Mrs. Jones was back to hearing like she did when she was 20 years old?  No.  Remember, this is a journey.  We worked together over the next several weeks to further adjust her Eargos to get her where she felt comfortable with what she was hearing.  

The greatest moment I had with Mrs. Jones was the last time we talked. She explained that things were going extremely well, she was hearing better and clearer, and overall she was struggling much less. In the background, I could hear her grandsons, and during the call one of them asked her a few questions which she replied to without hesitation (and without having to ask them to repeat the questions).  I just smiled!  Her greatest desire was to effectively speak and communicate with her grandsons, and now she was able to do just that.

The path that Mrs. Jones took to having success is a very common one.  There can be a lot of trial and error when it comes to hearing aids, and it takes time, patience, and a commitment to hearing better.  It also takes time to get used to having something in your ear, and how to get used to hearing sounds again that you may have even forgotten that you weren’t hearing anymore. And finally, it takes time to learn different strategies to communicate easier.  This all takes time because hearing aids are a journey—but you won’t be alone on this journey. Eargo will be here with you, every step of the way. From the first time you put them in, to changes in your hearing down the road, we’re just a call or click, away.   

*Name changed for client privacy