It took you a long time to admit that something was wrong with your hearing, and even longer before you took the first step to overcome it. After many tests, appointments, and brochures, you finally received a hearing aid—only to discover that you aren’t completely in love with the way it works.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many patients report that within the first weeks of wearing their new hearing aids, everything sounds strange, including the sound of their own voice. What you may not have been told is that it takes weeks, sometimes months, for people to adjust to life with a hearing aid.
Why Is There an Adjustment Period for Hearing Aids?
Hearing devices are sometimes compared to a new pair of glasses or walking in new shoes. While there are some similarities, adjusting to a hearing device is actually closer to learning a whole new language. In fact, that’s what your brain is doing: it is relearning how to process the sounds it hasn’t heard in years. During this time, you will need to be patient as you learn what to expect and how to get the most out of your hearing aids.
What to Expect As You Adjust to Your New Hearing Aid
From the moment your hearing aid is switched on, you may be overwhelmed by the sudden ability to hear all the sounds around you. Your voice might sound distorted or louder than usual, and sudden noises may startle you. In the first few weeks, you may need to lower the volume as you become comfortable with the different environmental noises.
You should plan on making (and keeping) several follow-up appointments with your hearing care provider. Hearing aids frequently need to be adjusted in the first few weeks to ensure that the device is delivering proper sound. You can make the most of these appointments by freely discussing your concerns with the hearing specialist and by asking him or her to demonstrate any special features (such as a phone connection or wireless TV sound streaming) to get you used to these experiences.
Your hearing care provider should counsel you on easing yourself into using your hearing aids every day. You can begin by using them for an hour in the morning, an hour in the afternoon, and an hour before bed, gradually increasing the amount of time. Your hearing care provider may provide you with a calendar, schedule, or checklist to help you transition to full-time hearing aid use.
Tips for Adjusting to Your Hearing Aid
It is important to remember that all individuals will adjust to their hearing devices at different rates. Some adapt to the changes in a matter of days, others will take months. While there may not be a way to “speed up” the adjustment period, there are many ways to make the initial stage go more smoothly:
- Stay informed. Learning about your hearing loss is an important step in treating it. You should understand your condition, what caused it, how to prevent it from getting worse, and what you can do to help your communication skills. Not only should you learn as much as you can, you should involve your spouse, children, and family members in the discussion to help them understand what you are going through.
- Practice. Think of your first few weeks with a hearing aid as a trial, like test driving a car. Don’t be afraid to test the limits and explore all of the options. Once you’re used to wearing them around the house, begin to use them in a variety of new listening environments. When speaking to friends and family members who are speaking too quickly or too loudly, don’t hesitate to give them pointers on working with you as you adjust to the device.
- Set realistic goals. People often get frustrated by the length of time it takes to adjust to a new hearing aid. It helps to remember that your hearing loss occurred over several years, so expecting your hearing restoration to take a day or two is not realistic. Instead of saying “I will wear my hearing aids all day without problems,” focus on goals that you can complete and control, such as “When I have a problem, I will write it down so that I can discuss it with my provider.”
- Rest. Your adjustment period will take training, commitment, and dedication—and like any training process, it can be exhausting. Don’t try to wear your hearing aids all day at first; stick to the schedule provided by your hearing specialist. Make sure you get plenty of sleep at night so you are not irritable when it's time insert your aids in the morning.
- Follow up. You will be expected to follow up with your hearing care provider for fittings, but it is a good idea to consider additional assistance as well. Your specialist may recommend speech therapy or hearing counseling as part of your rehabilitation. These measures can greatly improve your communication skills, independence, and mental health.
The most important thing to remember is to be patient. It may seem like your hearing aid adjustment is taking a long time, but one day soon you will forget you are even wearing them—and not long after, you will wonder how you ever got on without them. If you are ready to take a hands-on look at these devices, call or visit us today to have our hearing care providers walk you through our wide range of hearing aids.