Modern hearing aids are sophisticated devices that aim to create a natural sound environment for the user. If you have never worn a hearing aid before or have just purchased a new one, however, there is often a period of adjustment. It takes time to get used to wearing a device in your ear that amplifies incoming sounds.
What to expect
There are two things that you need to get used to when wearing hearing aids for the first time. The first is the physical sensation of the hearing aid inside the ear. Behind-the-ear and in-the-ear varieties of hearing aids fit snugly into the ear canal itself and pipe sounds through to your eardrum via a speaker.
For many people, the sensation of wearing a hearing aid can be very different from what they are used to. When you wear a hearing aid, it can act a little bit like an earplug, blocking the regular flow of air in and out of the ear canal. You can feel as if your ears are bunged up, due to the contact between the device and the ear canal wall. Luckily, you will adjust to this feeling once you see how much better your listening experience is.
If your hearing loss is severe, you can also notice a sudden and abrupt change in the sounds that you hear. Your voice might sound a little strange, and you may suddenly pick up on sounds that you haven’t heard in a long time, such as children playing outside or car alarms.
At first, everything will seem surprisingly loud. You may find that the loudness of people’s voices is expected.
Over time, however, your ears get used to the sensation of wearing hearing aids. The physical feeling of the hearing aid inside the ear becomes routine, and your brain no longer pays it any attention. You hardly notice that it is there. What’s more, your auditory cortex begins to process incoming sounds better, adjusting the perceived sound level to something more appropriate for the situation.
Background noises that might seem obvious at first will also fade away once you get used to focusing on specific sounds. After wearing your hearing aids for a few weeks, you should find that you can ignore the majority of irrelevant, extraneous noises, just as you could before you had hearing loss. Eventually, you will get to the stage when wearing a hearing aid will feel like a perfectly natural part of your life, but it can take time.
Wear your hearing aid throughout the day
To get accustomed to the sound of ambient noise coming through your hearing aid, you need to wear it for long periods throughout the day. At first, start by wearing it for three or four hours, especially when conversing with other people. Then for the next few weeks, increase the amount of time that you wear it until you’re able to keep it in all day. The longer you can wear your assistive hearing device, the more opportunity your brain has to adapt to the new sound environment.
Learn about your hearing aid
Modern hearing aids are sophisticated devices with numerous settings designed to improve the quality of the sound experience. It can, however, take some time to learn how to use all of the features. Many people, therefore, work with a hearing care provider: a trained hearing expert who can show you how to take advantage of these features in a way that is best for you.
Start listening to the TV and radio using your hearing aid
Hearing voices through your hearing aid for the first time can be an unfamiliar experience. What’s more, if you have had undiagnosed hearing loss for a long time, it may take time for your brain to interpret incoming sounds accurately.
Many hearing care professionals, therefore, recommend that people begin practicing using their hearing aids while watching the news. News reporters often speak in clear, unbroken language, making it easier for your brain to adjust to the new incoming sounds.
If your hearing aids are working correctly, you should be able to turn down the volume on your TV and radio. Try, if possible, to lower the sound to a reasonable level with the help of a friend or family member who doesn’t have hearing loss. Doing this will help you adjust your sound environment to a level that is suitable for your hearing aids.
Adjusting to hearing aids for the first time can take up to four months. If you would like to discuss any aspect of the process with a hearing care professional, call one of our convenient locations at 1-888-553-7520 today.