At first, Gunner Petersen's hearing aids did not work properly, but when they were adjusted and refitted, the result was completely different.

"Hearing sounds that I hadn't heard for years was quite overwhelming," says Gunner Petersen, a Dane, about his ability to hear when adjustments were made in his digital hearing aids.

"I must admit that I was disappointed when I first received my hearing aids. They didn't make much of a difference. I often felt that I actually heard better without them. I thought this was how it was supposed to be, and I was beginning to accept it. I also had a sense of being closed in when wearing them. I almost put them away in the drawer. But after a few months when I had them readjusted I must say that I was extremely and positively surprised.

Sneaking hearing loss
Gunner Petersen, at the age of 73, tells a story others recognize. He does not know precisely when his hearing loss set in. It just crept up on him.

"It probably happened after I retired many years ago. I never experienced any problems at work. But I cannot pinpoint the time it first manifested itself," says Gunner Petersen, who worked as a department head in the local social authority of his hometown of Horsens.

"The hearing aids enable me to hear sounds I didn't hear for years - footsteps, cars on the road outside of my house, bird song, the wind in the trees. It was almost overwhelming when they were readjusted and set correctly, and I spent a month getting used to hearing all the sounds that I didn't hear for five-six years or longer. Now I wear my hearing aids all the time, and the sense of being enclosed has gone away. I take them out only when I go to sleep and when I take my bath.

The only difficulty I have is in gatherings of many people where I may have trouble hearing and separating the many voices and noises."

Hesitated too long
As the sounds slowly grew dim, Gunner Petersen did not notice. Later, he resigned to the idea and figured that "this is how it is. I'm probably having a small hearing loss like people often have at my age".

His family apparently disagreed and put a bit of pressure on him, explains Gunner Petersen. "I often misunderstood what they said, and I turned up the volume to listen to the radio or watch TV. They told me and urged me to have my hearing checked, and they said that modern hearing aids could help me hear again. I probably waited too long. I know this now," he says.

"My hearing loss caused me to stay out of conversations when I was together with several people. I stop listening because I couldn't hear what was said, anyway."

At the Ear Nose and Throat doctor and the audiologist he was found to have significant hearing loss in both ears. His hearing was affected at low as well as high frequencies, and his hearing loss was greater in his right ear. At middle level frequencies the hearing loss was less severe.

Gunner Petersen was prescribed and soon received his digital hearing aids.

"But it took repeated visits before they were fully adjusted, fine-tuned and functioning at their best for me," he says.

Two pieces of good advice
Gunner Petersen offers two pieces of advice to others in his situation:

"First, it is extremely important to be aware of any hearing loss and to have it examined.
Second, if you are prescribed hearing aids, you must make sure that you receive complete instructions and you must be persistent and have them adjusted and adapted to your hearing needs until they work, even if this means repeated visits with the audiologist. Putting them away in a drawer if at first they don't work is no solution and a very bad idea."