Realistic Expectations for the Hearing Aid User
Hearing aids work very well when they are fit and adjusted appropriately to the user’s prescription. Most people do not know that there is an adjustment period for your ears and your brain to reconfigure to incorporate hearing aids (or new hearing aids) into your life. In the beginning this will sound different. Nonetheless, they should be comfortable with respect to the physical fit and the sound quality. They will not restore your ears back to exactly what you may remember from years ago and they are not as good as normal hearing. You may be aware of the hearing aids in your ears. Until you get used to it, your voice may sound “funny.” Some hearing aids have features that make noisy environments more tolerable; however, hearing aids cannot completely eliminate background noise. It is important to have realistic expectation and know what your hearing aids can and cannot do.
Your Own Voice
When trying hearing aids for the first time or when you are fit with new hearing aids you will probably notice your own voice sounds different or funny. Don’t worry- this is very common and should go away. You will hear your voice amplified through the hearing aid and may describe this sensation as sounding “hollow” or feeling “plugged up.” Again, this is normal and will usually go away in a few days after you have given yourself a chance to get accustomed to your new hearing aids. There are adjustments that the hearing specialist can do to relieve these symptoms, should these persist beyond the first few weeks.
Adapting to New Hearing
People learn at different rates. Some people need a day or two to learn about and adjust to their hearing aids, most need a few weeks and some may need a few months. There is no perfect way to learn about hearing aids. If you notice that you are struggling on the first day, it is recommended you wear the hearing aids for a few hours then take them out. After that you should add about an hour a day for each day that follows until you are wearing it full-time during your waking hours. Do not try to set an endurance record. Over a period of time you will lengthen the amount of time that you wear the aids. It is recommended that you interact with those people you are most familiar with during your first few days. Start off listening with your hearing aids in a favorable listening environment and work towards more difficult listening situations. Let your friends and family know that you are using your new hearing aids.
Hearing aids need to be comfortable, not too tight and not too loose, they should fit just right. Do not wear the hearing aids if they cause any discomfort or irritations. Do call your hearing specialist to schedule an appointment to remedy the problem as soon as possible. Do not wear them if they are uncomfortable.
Helpful Steps to Learning to Use a Hearing Aid:
- Use the aid at first in your own home environment.
- Wear the aid only as long as you are physically comfortable with it.
- Accustom yourself to the use of the aid by listening to just one other person – husband or wife, neighbor or friend.
- Do not strain to catch every word.
- Do not be discouraged by the interference of background noises.
- Practice locating the source of the sound by listening only.
- When you hear a sound that you are unfamiliar with acknowledge it. This will increase your tolerance for sounds.
- Practice learning to discriminate different speech sounds.
- Listen to something read aloud.
- Gradually extend the number of persons with whom you talk, still within your own home environment.
- Gradually increase the number of situations in which you use your hearing aid.
- Consider using a computer aided program such as LACE to increase you success and benefit with hearing devices.