Ten Reasons Hearing Aids Are NOT Like Glasses

Do your friends and family ever wonder why you don’t hear better with your hearing aids? Mine sometimes do, which can be frustrating, especially when you are working extremely hard to hear the best that you can. They might be confused, thinking that hearing aids are just like glasses, and that once you put them on, your hearing is restored to normal. Those of us with hearing aids know this is not the case. You can read more about that here.

Below are my top 10 reasons why hearing aids are not like glasses. Share this post with your loved ones and help them understand the difference.

Please add to the list in the comments!


LWHL’s Top 10 Reasons Hearing Aids Are Not Like Glasses

1. They do not restore your hearing to “normal” — things will be louder, but not always clearer, making it difficult to understand speech.

2. They amplify all sounds, including those you don’t want to hear like the hum of the refrigerator and other background noise.

3. They are not seen as fashion accessories, although some hearing aids now come in colors.

4. They often remain shrouded in stigma and shame, unlike glasses which make you look “smart.”

5. They are not regularly covered by insurance making them prohibitively expensive for many.

6. They need batteries to function.

7. They can increase sensitivity to loud sounds.

8. They squeal at inopportune times.

9. They can’t get wet.

10. They are easily misplaced and can sometimes be mistaken for a snack by the dog given their size.

Readers, what reasons would you add to the list?

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78 thoughts on “Ten Reasons Hearing Aids Are NOT Like Glasses

  1. We talked about hearing aids just this past weekend, during a family gathering. When asked, my father said he doesn’t need one … that people are just mumbling, but that has nothing to do with his hearing. My uncle then pointed out that he wears two … which I didn’t even notice until he pointed it out. It was a lengthy discussion, so I won’t bore you with the dialogue.

    However, not once did anyone say that they DON’T hear better with them — I didn’t know that. Is it that they amplify, which also may distort the sound being amplified?

    Thank you for this; it helps me to better understand.

    • Imagine when a person speaks through a microphone. Sometimes the microphone echos and there is feedback, it squeals. Not only can one hear the speaker on the microphone, but they may also hear breathing, rustling of papers and clothes, etc. This is a similar amplification to hearing aids. They magnify everything. Not just what we want to hear. There are sophisticated versions available with better noise cancelling functions, but they are not perfect and can be thousands of dollars.

  2. The ear mold can cause sores which make it painful to wear especially when putting on and removing,

  3. You can’t quickly or easily buy/replace hearing aids at Marshall’s (for example) where three pairs of glasses cost $9.99.

  4. Sometimes it feels good to be a little snarky and do a little complaining 😉 I understand! I love the comments above because it shows that there is a community of people who can relate to each other and can support each other. I just had to put the positive spin on this post for some perspective.

    1. They do not restore your hearing to “normal” — they don’t provide perfection or “20/20″, but they bring great benefit.

    2. They amplify all sounds, including those you think you don’t want to hear like the hum of the refrigerator and other background noise. Many of those sounds can seem surprising at first, but your brain will adjust to the majority of those new sounds in the first week. The higher the quality of the hearing aid, the smoother that transition will be and the more they will compress background noises.

    3. They have not been seen as fashion accessories, although some hearing aids now come in colors. The perks these days are because hearing aids can be virtually invisible and can now stream phone calls and music from your smartphone.

    4. To some they are still shrouded in stigma and shame, unlike glasses which make you look “smart”, but wearing an invisible device that keeps you in the conversation is actually very “smart”. The younger generations do not see stigma like their older counterparts did.

    5. They are not always covered by insurance, but financing options can make them accessible for more people. The price of hearing aids has not gone up in over a decade even though the technology has increased at lightening speed, giving immensely more value for the price.

    6. They need power to function. This may be in the form of disposable batteries or a recharging station.

    7. They can increase sensitivity to loud sounds if they are not programmed correctly, but one of the benefits to new technology is the ability to amplify soft sounds to be comfortably heard, while compressing loud sounds within the individual’s comfort level.

    8. They used to squeal at inopportune times, but today’s feedback controls and 3D printing capabilities keep that mostly under wraps.

    9. They can’t be submerged, though a coating is painted on all of the internal electrical parts to make the devices as water repellant as possible.

    10. They are easily misplaced and can sometimes be mistaken for a snack by the dog given their size, which is why several storage cases are included with the devices to keep them tucked safely away at night and also why the smartphone compatible aids have a “find my hearing aids” function to track them down by GPS!

    Hearing aids provide immense benefits, while presenting many of their own challenges. This is how I view hearing aids, in a positive light, which I believe helps in the acceptance and use of these devices that bring so much value to people’s lives. Cheesy yes! But that’s me!

    • In general Shari writes in an upbeat and optimistic way about hearing loss and the various accommodations that one makes to deal with it. I read this as a realistic list of some of the challenges that people face, not as snark.

    • Without my hearing aids, I am virtually deaf. My hearing aids go in first thing in the morning and come out last thing at night. I take impeccable care of them, putting them in my Dry Store without fail before I go to sleep, because I depend on them so mightily. I am deeply grateful for my successive pairs of hearing aids; for the skillful and compassionate audiologists who have evaluated my hearing each year and fitted me with the best hearing aids for my progressive hearing loss; and for the ability to fund the expensive technologies, including my hearing aids, that help me to participate.

      My hearing aids alone are not able to keep me connected and included in conversations involving more than 2-3 people – conversations that are important to me – unless I take additional steps: technologies that work with my hearing aids, communication strategies that require skill and patience both on my part and on the part of my communication partners, and the ability to recognize and respond to the fatigue that comes with listening under many different conditions. I think the fact that hearing aids don’t solve many communication problems alone is the single most important reason why there tends to be a somewhat qualified appreciation for hearing aids among people who use them.

      The primary emphasis in hearing loss treatment often weighs in the direction of hearing aids – instead of communication. I think that the model of hearing loss treatment is now quickly evolving in a new direction, and that in the future, encounters with the hearing specialist will begin with the question, “What are the most important areas of your life that you want to hold onto?” For any given patient, addressing situation specific communication solutions may well begin with hearing aids, but I think we are going to begin to more routinely see holistic approaches that have been hard to come by for people with hearing loss: robust training for patients on the use of t-coils, loops, personal FM devices (including multiple mics), and communication strategies; listening training; and peer support, family involvement, even relaxation practices.

      Hearing loss is a really complicated disability that requires complex set of solutions beyond hearing aids.

  5. As you mentioned in point 8, they squeal at inopportune moments; especially when your mould is getting too loose and it can take up to 4 weeks for a new mould to arrive (at my old hospital anyway!) by which point the squeaking is incessant!

  6. Hearing aids do not heal the damage inside our ears, so even when the amplification is just right at all the various frequencies to compensate for our hearing loss, there’s still an element of distortion due to the damage that exists within our hearing mechanism. Normal hearing people don’t understand that.

  7. Yes my dog did indeed eat one!! CI also pick up all the sounds. Hearing aid in left CI on right. I am wired for sound, good and bad. So very thankful for living in this age of technology.

  8. One negative I’ve found with hearing aids is that I can’t hear as well without them as I used to. I asked my audiologist why this seemed to be,and she said it was because my brain has rewired itself to accept a higher level of sound as the new normal. Anyone else find this to b true?

    • Interesting. I think the brain does adapt to the hearing aids, but the good news about that is that the hearing aids start to be more effective as your brain learns to work with them. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  9. I have a different situation with my problem, having a hearing aid for each ear.
    I had my aids for about two years abd was getting really used to them when I was diagnosed with IPF… It’s a fatal lung disease which requires me to use oxygen when exerting (anytime I’m walking more than a block as well as exercise time) so I have a cannula in my nose which goes up and over my ears and then down to a device that gives me oxygen. It’s so difficult when you take that thing on and off so many times a day and then the hearing aids go flying!
    I’ve resorted to not using my hearing aids as often as I might want to because of this difficulty as I can’t afford to lose them or damage them.

    It’s just another thing I’ve learned to deal with .

  10. My 8 year old loves her hearing aid and wears it like a fashion accessory. Today she got her glasses to. She feels the coolest kid on the block. She has it all matching in pink. I love how the stigma is changing. She is a true fashionista.

  11. Hearing aids require extra devices, unlike glasses, to function for 6′ or greater distances. The extra device(s) are needed in many cases to: use a smartphone, use a television, use a tablet, use a PC, use a radio, go to a movie, hear a public speech etc. Each of these devices may be proprietary to a company. Different federal entities (FCC) and laws regulate the “distance hearing/media connection devices” (telecoil in tablets nonexistent; Captioning only certain things; Lack of phone volume and speech clarity data for cellphones) than regulate hearing aids (FDA).

    It is like instead of bifocals, you had to use different controls for your glasses to work to view a TV or an Android smartphone or an Apple tablet or a Dell or a movie theater!

  12. In my BLog, I wrote an Ode to my hearing aids. Yet only in German, but soon in English too. I could’t funktion without them and to be honest, I passed the stage of being embarred that people see them. I wouldn’t mind them to look as piece of art or juwellery, if it wasn’t that expensive.

  13. Nice list!

    To add:

    – Hearing aids can’t distinguish who’s saying what – you all sound similar in a large group.

    – Hearing aids are hard to wear with headphones.

    – Hearing aids don’t pick up whispers well

    • I sooooo needed to read this today. My partner doesn’t understand why I can’t hear, despite the fact that I wear hearing aids. I am so grateful for them … but the buzzing, whining and whistling drives me insane some days. I also have times when I feel very lonely and ‘out of things’ because although I can hear ‘noise’ as such, my brain won’t define the words … however, at least I can hear. I’m still adjusting after a year.

      However, on a lighter note … my partner calls me ‘buzz’ because when he swoops in for a snog, my hearing aid whistles and buzzes! He’s also now got ‘tubular bells’ as his ringtone for me which I think is hysterical!

      Thanks for the post – i’ve only just come across your blog today, and it has made my day 🙂

  14. I am very disappointed with the number of negative comments I have read above. All of you invested a great deal of money to improve your hearing , or as we state it,”making your conversations easy” and greatly saddens me to know that you are dealing with dissatisfaction.
    I have been in the field for over 33 years and what I am reading smacks of the complaints that we had of the old analogue hearing aids.

    With the modern digital hearing aids we have at our disposal today, if fit correctly, the experience should’ve been a positive one ; not a disappointing one.

    The questions I would ask you are the following:

    Where are you rushed through the fitting of your new hearing aids?
    Were you given regularly scheduled follow-up appointments or a phone call after you received your hearing aids to see if any adjustments or minor tweaks needed to be done?

    How much experience did your practitioner or audiologist have?

    Did you purchase your hearing aids from a private clinic with very experienced professionals and did you pay for a service plan to go with your investment.? Or better still were you even offered one ?

    Did you Purchase your hearing aids of large box store?

    When fitted with your hearing aids, was it in a room that was quiet or was it in a room where noise was presented while the hearing aids were being adjusted.

    How much counselling and questions about your lifestyle expectations were asked prior to even being tested ?
    Granted when you wear hearing aids, you are going to hear sounds again that were robbed from you a few years earlier, but they don’t need to be at a level that is taking your head off and with all the channels that we have this can be done subtly and comfortably.
    In conclusion, if you were sold low-end hearing aids or even mid level hearing aids and told that you were going to hear well in the presence of background noise ,then you were misled. Those levels are great for quiet and small group conversations but to hear properly in the presence of busy background noise ,especially when you have a high-frequency lost ,you need the high-end product.

    • Proper fittings and good followup are important, but even the best hearing aids combined with the best care will not restore your hearing perfectly. I think that is what people are trying to express. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  15. Hi

    We all know from our individual experiences that hearing aids aren’t perfect.

    The trouble is that hearing people don’t.

    Comments such as “He has selective hearing” or “He doesn’t always put his hearing aids in” for example don’t help. As if we can switch hearing loss on and off.

    Hearing aids can help re-connect us to the hearing world but in some situations the reconnection may not be as great as in others.

    Then there is what hearing sound is like through hearing aids. I know that when I put mine on in a morning then a sudden barrage of almost mechanical sound hits me. This settles down in a minute of so but hearing people don’t understand that when we try to have a conversation or give something our attention then there is normally some other noise to compete with.

    I often describe what wearing hearing aids is like to hearing friends as being what having a slightly overloud radio playing in their heads all day would be like.

    Then there’s the physical feel of hearing aids in our ears, especially I find, when the weather gets hot.

    Love the blog

  16. My thanks to all for comments — both pro and con. I’m probably going to get one or more hearing aids and I want both sides of the story. It’s a bit like knowing what to expect for the day’s weather. I found nothing snarky here — just valuable information. Comments about effectiveness distance and background noise were especially valuable since I now have trouble hearing my partner when I’m near the refrigerator and he’s in the next room. 3 cheers for this list and all the people who cared enough to share their experiences!

  17. Exactly *LOL* Wearing HA’s isn’t like turning up the volume on a radio. It’s more like running that radio feed through a large speaker via a microphone!

  18. Why are hearing aids so much money and what are they really worth to make. There has to be a huge markup on these aids I’m sure. I’ve spent over $32000 over the course of 50 years of wearing hearing aids and now they cost even more than what I paid. Why doesn’t insurance companies help pay for some of the cost? They cover eye glasses which are as important as wearing a hearing aid. Just started looking at new aids as my hearing has changed and the new aids are costing me $5500 for a pair. So this will put me at over $37500 in hearing aids. Live on a fixed income and I may have to sell something to afford the new aids. Have never seem hearing aids go down on prices, just up.

  19. I have used aids for 20 years I used to wear glasses but never had any that cost $10,000 or hundreds of dollars per year for batteries and wax guards. No matter how expensive they are speech is still very hard to define.

  20. I call them my bionic ears, and love that I have something called a SoundGate which is a bluetooth I hang around my neck and feeds phone conversations and any other audio from my phone, directly into my ears. (But then again, I just LOVE gadgets!) 😉

  21. I am not convinced for the hearing aids to cost me (from a third world country) half my property. That is why most of my countrymen go without hearing aids in spite of some handicaps. The audiologists and hearing aid manufacturers should make lot of research and efforts to make hearing aids affordable even to the lowest affluent person.\ Perhaps they do not want because it is profitable even if small number of persons have hearing aid. I do not think the old people may feel shy in declaring the impairment of hearing. Do not give the centuries old arguments.

      • thank you that you agree with me about the cost of hearing aid. In my newspaper(india) there is a news item “new drug may help treating hearing loss”. study in “bioconjugate chemistry”. :The researches designed a molecule combining 7,8 dihydroxyflavone which mimics a pretin critical for development and function of the nervous system, and bisphosphonate, a tpe of drug that stick to bones”. take care of this before you are driven out of business. I hope the drug will not be as costly as the hearing aid. this include for those who hearing impairment due to ageing. (THE HINDU,dated 8th April 2018. thanks once again.

        On Sat, Apr 7, 2018 at 5:55 PM, Living With Hearing Loss wrote:

        > Shari Eberts commented: “Hearing aid prices are a big problem. Thankbyou > for sharing your thoughts. Does your government provide any assistance? ” >

      • hope hearing aid manufacturers do not scuttle the attempts by CONJUGATE CHEMISTRY people. thanks. debate closed.

        On Sun, Apr 8, 2018 at 5:51 PM, Living With Hearing Loss wrote:

        > Shari Eberts commented: “As of now, there is no biological cure for > hearing loss. Ongoing research is taking place. ” >

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