Adjusting to New Hearing Aids

May 27, 2020

Adjusting to New Hearing Aids
 
Dr. Darcy Benson
Latest posts by Dr. Darcy Benson (see all)

When you first acquire hearing aids, it’s a big step in the right direction when it comes to your hearing health, but they are not a panacea. It’s essential to manage your expectations in two areas: 

The amount of hearing that is eventually restored.  Your hearing will be much better than before, but unlike eyeglasses that correct your vision, they will not permanently restore your hearing to 100 percent accuracy. 

The length of time it will take to get used to your hearing aids. Again, unlike eyeglasses, your hearing is not restored immediately upon inserting the device. It takes time for your brain to acclimatize to the new sound information you are receiving, and it can be a little overwhelming at first. 

 

New sounds for the brain

When you experience a hearing loss, you focus on the sounds that you can’t hear that you want to hear, such as the conversation happening in front of you. What you don’t realize is that there are many other sounds you are missing out on. 

These sounds come to the forefront when you use hearing aids for the first time. From the wind, the whirr of the microwave, to the sound of pulling a shirt over your ears, a whole world of sounds are restored. It will take a while for your brain to process these sounds, and relegate them to the background again. 

To speed up this process, here are some useful tips.

 

1. Wear your hearing aids regularly

To readjust most successfully, you will need to wear the hearing aids every day. Wearing them helps your brain adapt to a new way of hearing and will gradually make your hearing experience a richer one.

Hearing loss left untreated reshapes how the brain processes sound. To compensate for the missing information, the pathways your mind uses to understand incoming signals are rewritten. That means hearing loss is continually transforming our auditory system away from the standard processing of sound. 

When you introduce hearing aids to your new way of hearing sound, the effect may seem alien and jarring. Luckily, our brains are incredibly adaptive, and most people will adjust to their hearing aids in just a few weeks with regular usage.

 

2. Connect speech to words

A great way to connect speech to meaning is by reading yourself loudly or listening to an audiobook while reading in print along with the text. Reading while listening helps reconnect sound to meaning, and can increase your rate of understanding. Reading to yourself aloud has the bonus of getting familiar with the tone of your voice through hearing aids.

There are other ways to connect speech and sound too. Watch movies and television with subtitles on, and read and listen to the dialogue. Reading while listening creates links in your auditory system, helping your brain reconnect the dots it lost throughout your years of untreated hearing loss. 

 

3. Start small with conversations

While practicing speech recognition alone helps, while using your hearing aids, you will also want to branch out and start talking to your loved ones. 

Start small by having one-on-one discussions in private environments as you first respond to your hearing aids. If you feel comfortable, keep the environment quiet but add more people to your conversation. 

Pay attention to where speech comes from and how your ears locate sound in space as you communicate with multiple people. Silent communication builds understanding and prepares you to navigate sound in louder and more complex environments.

 

4. Set goals and take notes

Set achievable goals to help chart your progress, such as keeping TV at a certain level, or understanding multiple conversations at the dinner table at once. Setting a target, and then achieving it will show that you are making positive progress.

When meeting with your hearing specialist or audiologist, take notes during the adjustment period, and discuss what you see as issues. Is there a certain level of sound that you have trouble adjusting to, or are there some other fitting issues that should be addressed? 

 

Fitting is a process

When you get your hearing aids with us, we’re pretty sure your first fitting appointment won’t be your last. And that’s the way it should be! 

It takes time to get the fit entirely right, but we’re willing to take that time with you. Our fitting process is carried out with precision and accuracy, based on your hearing test results. To get started, contact us today to set up a hearing test.