Getting a hearing aid is the first step on the path to better hearing health. As with any new technological device, it will take time and patience as you learn how to use it. At first, your brain will have to work hard to remember how to process sounds again. For new hearing aid users, this period of adjustment can often feel like an uphill struggle – but it’s worth the effort. Hearing aids greatly improve your quality of life, from health and personal safety to relationships and even work performance. We’ve put together some tips to help you get through the first few weeks.
Wearing hearing aids for the first time can feel unnatural and even uncomfortable. You might be aware of the devices resting on or inside your ear. Don’t worry – just like wearing glasses, it will take a few days before your body adjusts to these new sensations.
At the beginning, wear your hearing aids for a few hours a day at home. Take time to get used to the familiar everyday noises around you. Because your hearing may have been diminished for some time, certain noises may sound louder, harsher or stranger than you remember. If it’s overwhelming, you can turn the volume down – but don’t make this a habit, as your brain needs time to get used to the sounds.
If you continue to experience discomfort with the physical feel or sound of your hearing aids, let your hearing specialist know so they can check if there are any problems.
When wearing hearing aids, the sound of your speech, chewing, coughing and swallowing will be amplified. As a result, it can be hard to know how loudly you are talking. Ask a friend or relative to tell you when you are talking too loudly or quietly, so you can regulate your speech volume. Reading aloud to yourself everyday can also help you get used to the sound of your voice.
Practice conversations with friends and family whenever you can, and make sure to face the speaker as they talk. This will help your brain relearn the connections between speech sounds, lip movements and body language. Once you’re comfortable with this, practice looking away from the speaker, so you don’t become reliant on lip reading.
Practice makes perfect
It’s a good idea to do some listening and speaking exercises to help you to “train your brain” and learn to work with your hearing aids. For example, close your eyes and identify what direction sounds are coming from. When you’re in a noisy environment, try shifting your attention from one sound to another. Watch television with the subtitles (closed captioning) on to help you follow the dialogue.
Don’t be afraid of new situations
Once you are comfortable wearing your hearing aids at home, try them out in new situations. Wear them at work or school, while you’re out shopping or at a social event. Your hearing aid will have different programmable settings for different kinds of environments, such as noisy places or outdoors. Experiment with these to find the best settings for each place.
Keep a diary
Note down your progress as you go. Keep track of the sounds that you are uncomfortable with and situations where you feel you can’t hear as well. These will mostly likely improve as you learn to use your hearing aid. If they don’t, take your notes along to your follow-up appointments. The diary will help your hearing specialist pinpoint exactly what your needs are and adjust the hearing aids accordingly.
Don’t rush it
After two weeks, you should aim to wear your hearing aids during your waking hours and during all your daily activities (except swimming and showering). On average, it takes people between 4-6 weeks to feel fully comfortable with new hearing aids. This adjustment period is important and will help you to get the best use out of your hearing device. Don’t worry if it feels like it’s taking a long time – it’s not a race!
Remember – you’re not alone!
Millions of people wear hearing aids, and have been through exactly this process. It’s worth the payoff. Ultimately, your hearing aid can be a key to improving not only your hearing, but the way you live your life. As your confidence improves, you will be free to continue doing the things you love, independently and without worry.
We’re here to help
If you’re thinking about finding a new hearing aid, or you’d like help learning how to use one, get in touch with us. Our hearing specialists are happy to help you find a solution that suits you. To make an appointment, contact us at Fidelity Hearing Center today.