Instead of isolating you from family, friends, and neighbors because of hearing loss, hearing aids restore those connections and provide you with a more satisfying quality of life and a greater level of independence. However, to experience these benefits, you have to wear your hearing aids, which is a challenge to many of my patients when they begin wearing them for the first time. To help encourage my patients and others who use hearing aids to stick with them and take advantage of the help they provide, I have assembled a list of what you can expect from wearing hearing aids for the first time and some special tips for coping while you get used to them.
Adjustments in Wearing the Device
Several adjustments to wearing your hearing instrument are necessary. Recognizing them and making a conscious effort to make it through the first week or so of the adjustment period is essential to reaping the benefits hearing aids provide.
Proper placement is essential for both hearing aid performance and the benefits you can expect from them. Improper placement can cause whistling or feedback or reduce the effectiveness of the amplification provided by the device. A conscientious effort to follow precise instructions and using a mirror until proper placement becomes routine is essential. Patience and perseverance are also necessary in some cases.
Special Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for help with placement if you are struggling to get it right.
Size and weight reductions with an increased level of performance are among the notable benefits of the micro-digital technology used in modern hearing aids. Although they are lighter and smaller than their predecessors, your skin, blood vessels, and muscles require a period of adjustment to a foreign object that was not there before. Muscle aches and mild headaches are common forms of wearing fatigue to expect.
Special Tip: Remove your hearing aids for a short time each day, massage the affected area, but increase the length of time you wear them during the day until you have fully adjusted.
The mental adjustment of wearing hearing aids can be the greatest challenge for some patients. It is normal to feel self-conscious, especially due to the undeserved stigma often attached to hearing aids. Keep in mind that most modern hearing aids are incredibly discreet, and it is likely that no one will even notice.
Special Tip: The majority of people you encounter will applaud your initiative to improve your quality of life.
Adapting to a New Hearing Experience
Ultimately, the sound amplification of your hearing aid will produce the capacity to enjoy greater independence and a more satisfying lifestyle. However, your auditory system and brain will have to adapt to new sounds and volume levels that were absent before.
Hearing New Sounds
Before your hearing aids, you got used to a muffled or “plugged-up” sound quality. One of the most shocking experiences for new hearing aid wearers is the greater clarity of your own voice. It might not sound like it used to or like you expected. Along with greater clarity of your own voice will be the return of background noises, such as the clinking of dishes, people clearing their throats in a crowded theater, street traffic, or the rustling of clothing. It will take a while to adjust to this new level of clarity.
Special Tip: Reading aloud is an effective way to facilitate adjusting to the sound of your own voice.
Painful and Uncomfortable Noises
New hearing aid wearers also have to deal with unpleasant and uncomfortable noises like whistling or squealing produced by your hearing aids. Known as feedback, this is essentially the same effect caused by a poorly set up and adjusted sound system. State-of-the-art technology has made significant improvements in this area, but audio feedback is possible. Feedback indicates that one of several possible issues might require attention, including:
- Contact with Clothing, Jewelry, or Hair
- Plugged Microphone or Transmitter
- Damage to Components or Wires
Special Tip: Inspect your hearing aids for damage, keep them clean, be conscientious of your hair and what you wear, and follow strict placement guidelines.
You should also expect support and encouragement from your audiologist when wearing your hearing aids for the first time. Our goal at Duncan Hearing Healthcare is to make sure that you get the most benefit out of using your hearing aids. To achieve this objective, my team and I invest a lot of effort in educating you on proper care and placement, fitting, fine-tuning and adjustment, and troubleshooting. Still, we also encourage you by helping you to focus on the benefits instead of the challenges while you are adjusting.
Contact us for additional help with adjusting to your new hearing aids or contact the Dartmouth, MA, or Duncan Hearing Healthcare clinic closest to you.