Realistic Expectations of a Hearing Aid User

On average, patients wait about 5 years after the initial diagnosis of hearing loss, to purchase hearing aids. The longer a person goes without hearing, the harder it is for the brain to adapt to hearing again. We forget how everything sounds, especially background noise. We encourage everyone to address their hearing loss as soon as possible.

Hearing aids work very well when they are fit and adjusted appropriately based on the users hearing loss. It is important to know that there is an adjustment period for your ears and your brain to become accustomed to using hearing aids. In the beginning many sounds in your environment will sound different than what you are used to. Nonetheless, the hearing aids should be comfortable with respect to the physical fit and the sound quality. Sounds will improve the more consistently you wear your hearing aids.

Hearing aids will not completely restore normal hearing to the level that you may remember from years ago. At times, you may be aware of the hearing aids in your ears. Some hearing aids have features that make speech easier to understand in noisy environments. However, hearing aids cannot completely eliminate background noise.

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. You will hear your voice amplified through the hearing aids and may describe this sensation as sounding “hollow” or feeling “plugged up”. This is a very common sensation and should improve over time. The more you wear your hearing aids, the better this should become. In addition, there are adjustments that the Audiologist can do to help relieve these symptoms should they persist beyond the first few weeks.

Physical Fit

Hearing aids need to be comfortable, not too tight and not too loose. Do not wear the hearing aids if they cause any discomfort or irritations and call your Audiologist immediately to schedule an appointment. We will take a look to see what adjustments can be made to make your hearing aids more comfortable to wear.

Adapting to New Hearing

All people have an adjustment period of a few weeks to a few months when they first start wearing hearing aids. It is recommended that you wear your hearing aids as much as possible. Most people adjust and accept their hearing aids quicker, the more they wear them. However, if you find that it becomes too overwhelming during the first couple of days, it is reasonable to wear them for a few hours and then take them out for a period of time. After that, you should add about one hour a day for each day that follows until you are wearing it full-time during your waking hours. 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.

Helpful Hints When 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.

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