Over 500 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss, whether due to aging or from long-term exposure to loud noises, many people develop a need for hearing aids. Hearing aids increase our ability to communicate and be active in the world, improving our quality of life, but if you are a first-time wearer or have just changed to a new type of hearing aid there can be an adjustment period.
While at the practice, a hearing care professional will walk you through how your hearing aids work, how to adjust, clean and care. Good questions to ask at this time:
- What should you expect as a new user in different listening environments?
- How should you contact the office if you have questions while at home?
- What happens during follow up appointments?
When you arrive home be sure to spend time reading through all the information provided about your hearing aid and any instructions from the audiologist. Perhaps share this information with a loved one as well for additional support.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a list of tips to get the most from your hearing aids:
- Make sure you ask your hearing care professional about how long you should wear your hearing aids during the adjustment period.
- You may experience the “occlusion effect” at first. This is where your voice seems very loud when you speak. Talk to your hearing care professional and understand what to expect long term.
- Often after not hearing well for a period of time, you may be surprised by all the sounds that are now readily there. There can be an adjustment period for your brain as it works to handle all of these sounds again.
The U.K.’s Action on Hearing Loss provides similar tips, but in a ‘daily’ fashion that starts small and leads to testing in different listening environments. For example: Day 1: start simply by wearing your hearing aids for the prescribed time by your hearing care professional in the quiet of your own home. Maybe try listening to the TV or talking to another person. Day 2-4: gradually work up to wearing your hearing aids in the nosier rooms of your house – maybe the kitchen or outside. Ultimately, as you adjust to your new hearing aids, the benefit of hearing better and being able to participate in conversations will become more apparent.
Still, the best advice is to keep your hearing care professional in the loop and have open and honest conversations about your experience with the new hearing aids. They do not expect you to know everything about your new aids right from the start – never be afraid or embarrassed to ask a question. Your comfort and satisfaction are very important.