Earlier this week, I heard a story about a colleague who once worked in a hospital setting. They were citing an example of patient misunderstanding with regards to hearing aid instructions--use and care, insertion, removal, expectations vs. reality, the fact that the batteries go in the hearing aids; you don't swallow them!
As Audiologists, we see things like this every day. And part of the reason is because people who need hearing aids don't have hearing aids, people who have hearing aids won't wear their hearing aids as prescribed, or because the individual has already suffered the kind of cognitive decline that a pair of well-fit, well-worn hearing aids could've helped combat.
I don't know what became of this individual who once swallowed their "hearing pills", but I can say with confidence that swallowing hearing aid batteries does not improve your hearing! Here are some tips to get the most out of your investment:
1) Don't put off having your hearing tested. I test people every week that tell me that they either a) have never had a hearing test or b) haven't had a hearing test since elementary school. Make it a point to have a baseline hearing test once you enter adulthood and about every 5 years after that baseline, sooner if you notice difficulty hearing, understanding, or are experiencing in noises in your ears (tinnitus.)
2) If you are diagnosed with hearing loss and hearing aids are recommended, do what it takes to follow that recommendation. Hearing loss rarely gets better. It almost always gets worse. The longer the nerve fibers responsible for hearing go deprived, the greater the risk of long term side effects of untreated hearing loss such as cognitive decline, anxiety, depression, social isolation--just to name a few!
3) Actual wear the hearing aids you invest in! If something isn't right, go back to where you were fit and share what you are experiencing. Reach out to your hearing healthcare provider to work together for solutions to remedy whatever issues you are experiencing. It's important to remember that hearing aids aren't the great equalizer-they don't miraculously make someone with hearing loss hear like they no longer have hearing loss. However, a thorough evaluation, followed by a sound recommendation, followed by well-fit hearing aids, coupled with realistic aural rehabilitation will do amazing things for the quality of life of the hearing-impaired listener.
4) Most people don't just wake up one day with hearing loss. For most, it is a gradual decline after age, noise exposure, medications, etc do their part to slowly erode our ability to hear and understand those around us. Because of that, even after you make the wise decision to be fit with hearing aids, realize that that isn't all you have to do. You need to take care of your investment. Clean them. Routinely see your provider so they can perform a more thorough cleaning. Have a hearing test regularly (i. e. every 1-2 years) so the prescription in your hearing aids can be updated to reflect any changes in hearing you've experienced. Most eyeglass prescriptions don't last forever-neither does your hearing loss!