If you or someone you know is using hearing aids for the first time, be patient because they can take some getting used to. It will take time for your brain to adapt to its new perception of sound because your brain has to relearn the sounds that your hearing aid will allow you to hear. It will also take time to tinker with hearing aids and the different forms they come in to find the most comfortable system for you. Beginning your journey with hearing aids might seem daunting at first, but our team of professionals at Audiology Consultants of Southwest Florida is here to provide you with some tips and tricks to help you through every step along the way.
When wearing your hearing aids for the first time, the sound of your own voice will seem strange and foreign. This is common among many people and is not a cause for concern. Similarly, eating and drinking will seem too loud and could be obnoxious. Even though it might be a challenge at first, stick with it and keep wearing your hearing aids to train your brain to accept and acclimate to your new world of sound. (If these problems do not subsist, make sure to see your audiologist for a check-up)
Advice for acquainting yourself with hearing aids
When you first start using hearing aids, wear them in comfortable and quiet settings like your home or another location where there won’t be an abundance of loud and unpredictable noise. Additionally, let your friends and family know that you are wearing hearing aids so that they can be patient and help you become better adjusted to those environments with loud and unpredictable noise. Your friends and family can also help you adjust to your hearing aids by having private conversations and taking part in various exercises. Another helpful trick is to talk to yourself. Whether you are reading aloud or having a conversation with yourself, speaking aloud is always a good exercise.
Practice, practice, practice.
It can never hurt to listen to your environment and try to decipher the location of where different sounds are coming from. Also, listening to podcasts, audio books, music, or any other form of audible content, will help you immensely in getting used to your hearing aids.
Take your time and be patient
Do not overdo it and try to listen to everything around you when using your hearing aids for the first time. Start by actively listening with your hearing aids for only a couple of hours on your first day. The next day, try a couple more hours. By and large, you want to have a consistent increase in the amount of time you wear your hearing aids per day.
Follow up with your health care professional
If you are having problems with your hearing aids, do not hesitate to follow up with your health care professional to ensure that your hearing aids are working to the best of their ability. Your health care professional will adjust your hearing aids to fix any abnormal sounds in your hearing, reposition the device for comfortability, and discuss any problems or settings that are most pressing on your hearing. It is common for patients to schedule their initial check-up one to three weeks after they begin using hearing aids, so don’t be shy to schedule an appointment and get your problem solved.
Sign up for hearing aid assistance classes
It is not uncommon for audiologists to offer the opportunity for first-time hearing aid users to attend classes to help them adjust to their new hearing aids. Classes like these are extremely beneficial to those who attend them and almost always yield positive long-term results.
Noises that you didn’t notice before might become overwhelming and obnoxious.
Most people wearing hearing aids for the first time have not heard well for some time which makes their new perception of sound seem overwhelming and even unbearable. Your brain’s perception of sound, and especially background sounds, is slowly numbed over time so that you can give more attention to specific sounds, such as when you are having a private conversation. These background sounds, like the noise your radiator makes, might not have been noticeable before, but once you start using hearing aids, that same radiator noise could make it difficult to focus on other sounds. It takes time for your brain to adapt to hearing aids, so be patient and keep wearing them until you become comfortable with your hearing aids and the different sounds they pick up.
See your healthcare professional if you are experiencing any pain or serious discomfort
Hearing care professionals often claim that, at first, hearing aids can make your ears softer and more susceptible to pain. If this continues, however, and you are feeling consistent pain or discomfort, you should see your hearing care professional as soon as possible. You might have ear-molds which are made specifically for your ears. Ear-molds should alleviate pain, but if you are experiencing pain, see your audiologist as soon as possible. Another common type of hearing aids have a receiver in the ear and are easily movable and are sometimes preferred because they don’t clog your ears as ear molds can. This style is well received, but it can be difficult to find the right position that works best for your ears. Some people prefer ear-molds while others prefer the more adjustable and dome-like method of having the receiver in their ear. The most important thing is to find a method that is comfortable for you and that does not cause you any pain.
Help your partner
There are several exercises that you can use with your partner to help them adapt to their hearing aids. One of the most simple exercises is to have a one-on-one conversation with your partner. This will help them relearn how to have intimate conversations and, in doing so, help them block out background noise. Also, reading a book, magazine, or any other piece of writing aloud to your partner will help them practice how to hear and pronounce difficult words and sounds. If you end up doing this exercise, have your partner read along with you.
Along with the exercises above, it can be helpful to test your partner on their identification of different sounds. To do this, select pairs of words that are separated by just one letter. For example, wall and fall, or sour and hour, respectively, are the kinds of pairs of words you will want to use. After you have your list of paired words, allow them to watch you say the word aloud so that they can study the motion of your lips. Next, have them look away to see if they can tell one word in the pair apart from the oher. Experts say that sounds involving constants are the hardest for people with hearing aids to decipher.
Additional tips for helping your partner:
Your partner will have several audiology appointments as they fine tune their hearing aids. If possible, go with your partner to their appointments and help out by clarifying instructions and gathering information from their audiologist.
Using hearing aids is a frustrating process, and by offering assistance and empathy, you can help your partner maintain their goal of finding a comfortable relationship with hearing aids.
Read about problems that come with hearing aids and the methods people use to solve said problems. If there is any equipment your partner needs, it can’t hurt if you have an extra set of the same equipment.
Have a sense of humor
Although using hearing aids can be frustrating for both parties, it can also be a humorous journey as your partner will likely mishear some of your spoken words or phrases.
It is crucial to be patient with your partner. Always remember that your patience and resolve in those difficult and frustrating moments will pay off in the long run.
Focus on the benefits
Your partner has endured auditory deprivation and hearing aids are the means to bring back their ability to communicate well and to hear the things that once brought them joy. With all of the potential negatives we have discussed, hearing aids are an immeasurably beneficial technology.
As you become more in touch with your hearing aids, the discomforting sound of your own voice and the bothersome sound of the radiator will begin to dissipate and you will be able to hear music and sounds of nature. In time, you will not be as frustrated and mentally drained as compared to the first day you tried your hearing aids. All it takes is a little work, patience, and positivity.