With the vast technology that exists today, hearing aids have become increasingly innovative and highly customizable. Though your hearing aids have probably been programmed and fitted to meet your specific hearing needs, it is important to know that there is still an adjustment period. It may take some time to become familiar and fully comfortable with your hearing aids. Because hearing loss often occurs gradually, there are sounds that you most likely have not heard clearly (or at all) in quite some time. With your hearing aids you will experience new sounds and your brain will need time to readjust to hearing and processing those sounds. Also, remember that hearing aids will not restore your hearing to what it once was but will increase your ability to hear after some retraining. Here are additional tips to help you best adjust to your new hearing aids:
1. Give Yourself Time to Adjust
It is often noted to not compare hearing aids to enhancing your vision with glasses. When you put glasses on, you immediately see sharper images. In contrast, with hearing aids, it takes time to get accustomed to. They might feel uncomfortable at first either sitting in or behind your ear. Also, with hearing sounds you have not heard in some time, your brain needs to adjust to reinterpreting those new sounds.
2. Start at Home
Beginning in an environment that you are already comfortable in and familiar with can be really helpful. Starting at home allows you to familiarize yourself with the sounds of your living space. You can observe the quieter sounds that you possibly could not hear before: clock ticking, cars driving by outside, microwave/oven timer etc. This will help your brain become reacquainted with these subtle sounds in an environment that is calm.
3. Take Breaks
Retraining your hearing not only takes time but also effort and energy. Constantly hearing new sounds means that your brain is also working to interpret these sounds again. This can be tiring and overwhelming. Wearing your hearing aids for a few hours at a time can prevent overworking yourself. We recommend working your way towards wearing them all day. This allows your brain to gradually reregister all of the new sounds you are taking in.
4. Read Aloud
For some people, a major change they experience with hearing aids is the sound of their voice. Your voice may sound funny or a little unfamiliar to you and that’s normal! In dealing with your hearing loss, you may have been talking more loudly. Reading aloud can help you get use to your own voice and practice speaking at an appropriate volume. Also, this hearing sounds and speech will help you recognize these sounds more.
5. Practice with Family and Friends
The people in your life can be really helpful in supporting you with retraining your hearing. Having conversations with multiple people, in different settings, and environments with background noise will help your brain relearn these complex sounds (background noise and speech). These settings can be difficult and overwhelming because sound is coming from various sources at the same time. Practicing with people you know and are comfortable with can create greater ease.
6. Don’t Play with Volume Too Much
Your hearing aids are customized to match your specific hearing needs. They should adjust in both quiet and loud environments. It might be tempting to turn the volume up or down because you are hearing various new sounds. Also, you shouldn’t need to increase the volume on your devices (television, phone, speaker etc.).
7. Take Notes
Keeping track of the changes to your hearing can be very useful. Writing down the sounds that are irritating, any challenges with the device settings or maintenance, difficulty hearing in specific environments etc. is valuable information. It is important to share this information with hearing healthcare providers at follow-up appointments to ensure that your hearing needs are being effectively addressed.
Hearing aids can dramatically improve the quality of your life! Remember that it takes time and patience. It is common to feel funny, odd, or uncomfortable in the beginning. You just need time to become familiar with all you can hear now!