So you’ve decided to get hearing aids. That’s great! Hearing aids are an important part of maintaining your best health and well-being, once hearing loss becomes an issue. While many people, unfortunately, wait too long to get hearing aids (the average is seven years after noticing hearing loss), addressing it now is much better than never. Your hearing aids will help keep you more active, more socially connected, and ultimately happier and healthier.
Throughout life, we find that abrupt changes can take some getting used to. You can expect to experience a range of emotions while you’re adjusting to your new hearing aids, but having an idea of what to expect can make the process feel easier while you’re going through it.
It’s Almost Too Much Sound
Remember that once upon a time, you had normal, youthful, healthy hearing. It’s true that we hear just as much with our brains as we do with our ears! Many sounds you encountered on a regular basis simply faded into the background of your mind, as your brain decided they were unimportant. As hearing loss becomes an issue, our brains see less information coming from our ears and get used to processing information differently.
When you start wearing hearing aids, you’ll notice things like the rustling of your clothing, the sound of your hair moving, the refrigerator buzzing or speakers hissing. You might notice the sounds of shoes on certain flooring surfaces, or the sounds of other people chewing. It may be annoying, at first, but if you stick with your hearing aids, soon enough you’ll be able to ignore these sounds without even thinking about it, while still being able to hear the sounds that are important to you.
Relearning to Hear Speech
If you’ve been living with hearing loss for some time, you might feel that hearing aids aren’t helping you to understand speech, at first. Though you’ll be able to hear speech clearly, it may be difficult to understand it. This is because our brains actually forget how to comprehend speech! While this can be disheartening at first, remember that the more you wear your hearing aids and encounter speech, the sooner you will regain the ability to understand clearly.
Many hearing healthcare providers offer classes to help retrain the brain to understand speech again. Some group classes may happen in the office, but much of the course can be accomplished online. Remember that if you wear your hearing aids every day, you’ll soon become adjusted to them and be able to move confidently through your routines and engagements, knowing you can hear everything you need to hear.
Fitting Is an Ongoing Process
Your initial fitting is based on the results of your hearing test. While this should offer up the most accurate fitting for your specific hearing loss, it may be that you’re not ready for that much amplification, or that slight adjustments are necessary. Hearing aids are composed of tiny, sensitive parts, so it’s impossible for every hearing aid to be exactly like every other.
While real ear measurements can help to ensure a more accurate fitting, remember that we hear just as much with our brains as with our ears! Your brain is what is adjusting to your hearing aids, and frequent fitting adjustments may be necessary over the first few weeks you have your hearing aids for you to adjust properly and comfortably. Especially if you experience pain in your ears while wearing your hearing aids, talk to your hearing healthcare provider about a fitting adjustment. Your relationship with your hearing healthcare provider should be ongoing to ensure you’re getting the best care possible with your hearing aids, so don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know that something doesn’t seem right!
Talk To Others Who Have Hearing Aids
You probably have an acquaintance, friend, or relative who wears hearing aids. Talk to them about what the adjustment process was like for them. They may have a good piece of advice, or it may just be nice to talk to someone who has experienced the same thing that you’re going through.
Fitting Will Likely Change Over Time
Make sure to get a hearing test at regular intervals. Hearing loss tends to progress for a while, then plateau, but there’s no way of knowing whether you’ve started wearing your hearing aids in the middle of the progression or at the end. Hearing aid fittings allow for easy adjustment, so if your hearing loss changes, your newly-required settings can be easily applied.
Hearing aids are the best thing you can do to keep yourself in the conversation, and live every day to the fullest! Congratulations on your new hearing aids!