If you’re a first-time hearing aid user, it may feel unsettling to suddenly hear noises that you haven’t heard in many years. Your brain has become accustomed to not hearing certain sounds for some time, so it needs time to adjust to hearing sounds again. Here are 10 tips to adjusting to hearing aids for a first-time user.
1. Allow time for an adjustment period.
Many people make the mistake of equating hearing loss with vision loss. With eyeglasses or contact lenses, you will immediately notice the difference in your vision. Hearing aids do not work the same way. It can take days, weeks, or months to get used to hearing with hearing aids. Your brain needs time to relearn how to interpret sounds. The feeling of hearing aids resting in your ears also takes time. Soon enough, you won’t remember you’re wearing them. If you do notice pain in your ears from wearing hearing aids, perhaps you need an adjustment, different sized domes, or a different customized mold.
Try wearing your hearing aids in a quiet area at home. You can become accustomed to the sounds of your living space. Constant background noises such as the hum of the air conditioner, heater, or refrigerator; the ticking sound of a clock, the sound of water rushing from a faucet, etc. will help stimulate your brain and help you relearn the sounds you are hearing. Everything might initially seem too loud. This is normal. Your brain just needs time to readjust to them.
2. Take small steps.
Regaining your listening skills takes time and practice. If you are a first-time hearing aid user, begin by only wearing your hearing aids for a few hours at a time. If you start to feel overstimulated by the sounds, remove the hearing aids. Gradually work your way to wearing them longer each day. The more you wear them, the better practice you will have when you need to identify sounds, recognize people’s voices, and concentrate on the things you’re hearing.
3. Make realistic goals.
Think about conversations that you’ve had over the phone. No matter what type of phone you have, whether it’s the latest model or an older version, there’s still a difference in the sound of people’s voices. This same thing happens with hearing aids. You’ll hear those sounds differently through hearing aids than you remember experiencing them before your hearing loss. This is normal, and it’s okay.
4. Read to yourself out loud.
Before receiving hearing aids, some people may have said that you shout when you speak. Talking loud is normal when you are hard of hearing. Now, with hearing aids, you can gauge your volume of speech. A great way to practice this is by reading to yourself while wearing your hearing aids. You can study the best volume for speech, and you can become better at recognizing the sounds of words and speech.
5. Try to read while listening as often as you can.
When you read a book, listen to an audiobook while reading along. If you watch TV or a movie, watch it with closed captions. If you read while listening, your brain will become more familiar with connecting sounds, speech, and words. These are very minor, but important ways to make adjusting to hearing aids happen quicker.
6. Ask family and friends for help.
Your loved ones can help you when you are adjusting to your hearing aids. Talking to them gives you a chance to practice speaking around a group of people. Doing this will help your brain relearn sounds, words, and body language.
Practicing with people that you know and interact with on a regular basis is helpful because they are familiar to you and it’s easier for your brain to identify the sounds of their voice and interpret what is being said. Loved ones can also help you adapt by adjusting the TV or stereo to a setting that is comfortable for people with normal hearing abilities. This will allow you to listen and adjust to these new volume settings. Don’t raise the volume on your TV that is higher than a person who does not have hearing loss would. This could lead to more hearing loss.
7. Write in a hearing journal.
Keep a record of noises that irritate you. If you notice a repetitive noise like a ticking clock is too loud and annoys you after a few days, write it down. Do you struggle to hear when there’s too much background noise? Make a note of it. Track your experience with hearing and discuss it with your hearing instrument specialist. This will help them make proper adjustments and programming so that you can get the most out of your hearing aids.
8. Don’t make excessive adjustments to the volume.
There have been so many recent improvements in hearing aid technology. Good quality hearing aids can automatically adjust to your surroundings, instead of manually adjusting them. You may be inclined to lower the volume when you are in a loud area or raise the volume when in a quiet space.
You may want to try and hear noises from a distance, that normal ears wouldn’t be able to hear. Doing this will hinder how you adjust to your hearing aids, and it risks more damage to your hearing health.
9. Use telecoils (t-coils).
All of today’s digital hearing aids can wirelessly connect to other electronic devices using “telecoil technology” or “telecoil mode”. Hearing aids with this feature can be connected to your smartphone, computer, microphones, audio systems, and any other compatible device. The sounds are transmitted directly to your hearing aids, which can help you hear more clearly.
10. Patience is key.
These tips should be helpful for new hearing aid users, but it’s important to remember, as frequently mentioned: adapting to hearing aids takes time. Be patient with yourself and your hearing aids. And don’t be afraid to ask others to be patient with you too. Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing aid trial. Our hearing instrument specialists will work with you to get the most out of your hearing aids.