If you know what to expect from your hearing aids, you'll be free to enjoy the improvements they can make in your life. Hearing instruments are much like eyeglasses – they improve vision without curing the underlying reasons for vision loss. In the same way, hearing instruments are aids to better hearing but neither cure hearing loss nor restore perfect hearing. Each individual has unique experiences and a specific type and degree of hearing loss. It is important to have reasonable expectations to avoid the frustration that can come from expecting results that cannot be achieved.
Adjust to better hearing, better living
- With your sophisticated hearing device, you should be able to hear the special sounds of your life – the words of your loved ones and the many normal sounds that you may not have realized you were no longer hearing.
- Everyday sounds - You may begin to hear sounds you have forgotten were a part of your world - the hum of appliances or the buzz of fluorescent lights.
- Easier listening - Hearing aids should allow you to understand speech more clearly, with less effort, in a variety of environments.
- Improved hearing - Hearing aids will improve your hearing but may not restore your hearing to normal.
Learn to enjoy those special sounds again
With your new hearing aids, learning to listen requires a period of adjustment and a measure of patience. Some people almost automatically adjust to hearing aids and appreciate the benefits offered by the hearing instrument right away. The majority of new hearing aid users need time to adjust to all the sounds they are now hearing. You may need to learn to ignore unwanted sounds, just as you did with normal hearing. It is also important to be realistic and not to expect 100 percent hearing in every situation. You will find that the longer you wear your hearing instrument, the more natural sounds and speech comprehension will become.
Helpful steps to adjust to your new hearing instrument
- Initially, wear in your own home environment, where you are comfortable
- Wear your instruments, as long as you comfortably can, gradually increasing the length of time you wear them over a few weeks.
- Get used to your hearing instruments, while conversing one-on-one.
- Do not strain to hear every word—even people with normal hearing do not always hear every single word.
- Listening in background noise may be difficult, but do not be discouraged. People with normal hearing also have difficulty hearing with noise in the background.
- Practice locating the source of sound by only listening.
- Slowly increase your tolerance for loud sounds. Listen to something read aloud (books on tape from your local library are good choices).
- Gradually extend the number of people with whom you converse.
- Consider taking part in an organized aural rehabilitation course. Your hearing healthcare provider can offer further information about available courses.
You may encounter some of the following occurrences during your adjustment period:
- Your own voice may sound different. With time, you should adapt to hearing your voice in a new way. If you continue to find it difficult to become accustomed to your voice, you may need to make a follow-up appointment with your hearing healthcare provider for possible adjustments to your hearing devices.
- Some individuals experience a "plugged-up" or obstructed feeling if you are fitted with custom hearing aids, these styles of instruments occupy physical space in your ear canal and may cause this sensation. This typically decreases within a few days as you adjust to your new instruments. If you find that you continue to experienced the plugged-up feeling, contact your hearing healthcare professional who can adjust the programming or modify the fit. An open-fit or large vent hearing aid reduces or eliminates this sensation.
- You may experience feedback. A whistling sound can occur when the amplified sound re-enters the hearing instrument and is re-amplified. Feedback is normal in certain situations, such as when inserting/removing a hearing aid or when placing a hand or another object near the hearing instrument. If feedback is present when speaking, chewing, changing positions or yawning; you should contact your hearing professional, so adjustments can be made to remedy the situation.
Reasonable expectations for hearing instruments
- Be patient, it may take a period of six months to a year to adjust to all the sounds that are new again.
- Improved hearing in quiet (one-to-one communication, watching TV, etc.)
- Improved hearing in moderate background noise
- Soft speech should be audible, average speech comfortable. Loud speech should be loud (but not uncomfortable).
- Hearing instruments/ear molds should fit comfortably in your ears.
- Your voice should be “acceptable” to you.
- There should be no feedback, when hearing aids are properly seated in your ears.
- Ask your family and friends to help you by not shouting or mumbling; to get your attention before speaking to you; not to talk too fast or while eating; and be a distance of three to six feet from you when speaking.