What are some common challenges when adjusting to new hearing aids?
By, Margaret Christiansen, Au.D.
Getting new hearing aids is exciting but it can come with some surprises if you don’t know what to expect. When you first get your hearing aids, your world is going to be filled with sounds you have been missing! Conversations will be easier to hear and understand, television volumes will go down and you’ll be more connected to the world around you. When a hearing aid amplifies the sounds you’ve been missing, it not only amplifies what you want to hear but other sounds in your environment as well. Sometimes people are surprised at all the little sounds they’ve been missing. The rustling of their clothing, their feet on the carpet, typing on a keyboard… These are all sounds you heard when your hearing was normal, but since you haven’t heard these sounds for a while, your brain “forgot” what they used to sound like. Luckily, our brains are very adaptable. After hearing those everyday sounds again, your brain will start to push those sounds into the background. This allows you to focus more on the things you want to hear, like people’s voices.
People are often surprised by the sound of their own voice. Hearing one’s voice through hearing aids is a bit like hearing your voice over your answering machine. It doesn’t sound like what you are used to! With consistent hearing aid use, your brain quickly learns to accept this change and it starts to sound more normal and natural.
The key to getting used to these new changes is to wear your hearing aids. The more consistently the hearing aids are worn, the faster and easier the adaptation to hearing aids will be. Even if you are home by yourself, you are still hearing sounds and should wear your hearing aids. Ideally a hearing aid will be worn 8 or more hours each day.
Understanding what is normal and what is not normal while getting used to wearing a hearing aid is important. If the hearing aids are uncomfortable or causing you significant frustration, contact your audiologist to discuss your concerns. If things just sound different that what you are used to, give yourself some time to learn to hear again. Likely over the course of the coming days and weeks, everything will start to sound much more normal and natural.
As always, if you are concerned with your hearing aid function, call your audiologist to discuss your situation.