From having uninterrupted conversations with loved ones to hearing the birds singing, there are plenty of rewards with well-fitted hearing aids. If you have a hearing loss and have recently been fitted with hearing aids and having trouble adjusting to increased sound, don’t despair.
Getting hearing aids isn't the same as getting glasses, it comes with a period of getting used to them. Here are some tips for adjusting to your new hearing aid technology and ensuring they don’t end up in the bedside table drawer.
What to expect when you first get hearing aids?
Wearing hearing aids for the first time can feel quite overwhelming as you will be hearing more sounds around you. Typical everyday sounds might be a bit louder or more intense and many people have reported that their voice sounds different. It may sound unfamiliar or perhaps louder than you’d prefer. Other things people notice they hear is chewing or swallowing their food. This is because your brain has not heard these sounds for many years or possibly ever and has grown used to living with hearing loss. Your brain needs to learn to distinguish between different environmental noises again.
Whilst some of these things may be annoying or uncomfortable initially, the key thing to remember is that there’s a period of perseverance for everyone. Don’t feel discouraged if it takes you some time to get used to wearing your hearing aids.
How long does it take to get used to wearing hearing aids?
If it's your first time wearing hearing aids, the first two weeks are the most important time. This period of adjustment can be scary and challenging while you get used to all of the new sounds as well as learning how your hearing aids work.
Be patient with yourself, you will notice small improvements from the start however it can take up to six weeks of adjustment to experience the full benefit from your new hearing aids. If you're noticing that something doesn't feel quite right, contact your audiologist as hearing aids will sometimes require tweaks to their programming initially.
How many hours a day should you wear hearing aids?
So that your brain is constantly hearing sounds, we encourage people to wear their hearing aids for all waking hours. The only time we typically recommend people take them off is for sleeping as well as activities such as swimming or showering.
Tips to adjust to your hearing aids
It's likely that your hearing loss has come on gradually over the years so it may take a period of time for you to adjust to your hearing aids and hear certain sounds.
Consistency is key
Some people fall into the trap of only wearing their hearing aids when they feel they most need to, such as when out for dinner at a noisy restaurant. However, the more consistent you are at using your hearing aids, the more your brain will adjust to listening in a range of environments.
We encourage hearing aid wearers to practice listening for or trying to determine where sounds are coming from. Starting to hear more sounds can be overwhelming at first however give it time to get used to the hearing aid. Another way to practice is by listening to podcasts, audiobooks or the radio while you're alone.
At Hear and Say, we ensure hearing aid settings allow for constant, everyday use from the start. Initially the volume will be set more conservatively to allow for an easier adjustment period, particularly as your brain becomes used to hearing sounds it likely hasn’t heard in a long time. While sounds may initially ‘sound different’ from what you’ve been used to, nothing should be too uncomfortable that you can't wear your hearing aids. Your audiologist will test this in the clinic to ensure your hearing comfortable before you leave.
Most people will experience some slight irritation or itchiness in the ear when they first wear new hearing aids. Please let your audiologist know if you are having an issue with this, as solutions can be found to ensure you’re comfortable wearing your new hearing devices. Over time many clients report they forget they even have them in.
As you get used to your hearing aid settings, you will attend a series of fine-tuning appointments to gradually increase or adjust the sound. This means you may not experience the complete benefit of your new technology straight away, such as with clarity of others’ speech.
Your audiologist is there to support you on your journey, so don’t hesitate in asking lots of questions along the way. Make an appointment for review if you are not completely satisfied with your hearing devices. There are usually lots of adjustments which can be made to ensure you receive maximum benefit and wearing comfort.
How you can help others get used to hearing aids?
Hearing loss can impact both the person impacted as well as their loved ones. There are a number of tips and tricks to help your friends or family in getting used to their new hearing aid including:
- Have conversations so they can practice listening
- Test their ability to recognise different sounds. You can do this by coming up with words that sound similar (such as cat and mat) and firstly say them so that they can watch your lips. Once this is done, turn away from them and say the words again to see if they’re able to differentiate between the two words.
- Help them to recognise more difficult sounds by reading aloud
- Be patient with them as they adjust to their hearing aids
- Go along to their appointments and take note as there can be a lot of information initially. This is also an opportunity for you to ask questions as well.
Hearing can change gradually over time, if you think you may have a hearing loss, you’re noticing your hearing is getting worse or you’re finding it harder to hear in noisy situations, book a hearing test near you.
We have a number of hearing clinics in Queensland: