New hearing aids will bring about many new changes to your everyday listening experiences. Once you have begun to wear hearing aids, you can expect to make certain adjustments to your daily routine to better acclimate to this new tool.
What To Expect
Each patient, with their unique level of hearing loss and individual needs, will have a different experience adjusting to hearing aids, however; there are some general things you can expect in the months following this new lifestyle change.
It will take time to adjust to your hearing aids.
Going from a degree of hearing loss to restored hearing can be overwhelming. The average hearing aid wearer takes about 5-7 years of living with the hearing loss before getting help. Some even take longer before beginning their journey with a hearing aid. The longer the hearing loss goes untreated the harder it can be to bring back. As with any hearing loss, it takes time to adjust and relearn how to hear again. Small sounds like the closing of a drawer or even the sound of your own voice may sound odd. New sounds should never be uncomfortable, different yes, but not uncomfortable. If you are experiencing discomfort or too many loud noises, you can easily adjust the settings of your hearing aid through an app on your smartphone, a button on your hearing aid, or in the office with your hearing professional. This is very common as patients adapt to their restored ability to hear. Give yourself time to adjust. For the most effective transition, wear your hearing aids daily and always reach out to your hearing aid provider to see how they can help you through this process if you are having any problems. The more you wear them, especially when you think you don’t need them, the better your experience will be when your hearing loss needs more correcting.
Hearing aids require daily care.
A hearing aid is essentially a small computer that rests in your ear. To work properly, these devices must be cleaned daily to avoid build up from earwax and moisture. The better patients care for their hearing aids, the longer the hearing aid will care for the patient!
A perfect fit is necessary for optimal hearing.
You may have heard friends or family members complain of feedback sounds from their hearing aids such as static or whistling noises. These problems can often be attributed to a poorly fitted hearing aid. For the best results from your hearing aid, reinsert it multiple times to make sure they are positioned in your ear correctly. If problems persist, contact your hearing aid provider to see how they can correct this issue.
The “perfect hearing aid” doesn’t exist.
While there may not be a perfect hearing aid, there will be one that is the best fit for you. By working with a licensed professional, they will help you in choosing the best hearing aid for your needs. Selecting a hearing aid is much more than a one-size-fits-most solution. While some models may be more technologically advanced than others, the perfect hearing aid for you will depend on a number of specifics, including your level of hearing loss, lifestyle, maintenance requirements, cost, and more. With a specialist’s help, you can be sure to find the best hearing aid tailored to your needs.
Caring For Your Hearing Aids
One of the best ways to ensure hearing aids work properly is to provide regular care. This caretaking takes two forms—home maintenance and in-office care.
When you are at home, there are several things you should be regularly doing for your hearing aids:
- Daily cleaning – Before putting your hearing aids away for the night, you should always wipe them down with a soft microfiber cloth and a toothbrush. This step will help prevent the buildup of wax and moisture that can shorten the life of your hearing aids.
- Vent pick use – Once a week, use a hearing aid vent pick to clean the various openings on your hearing aids. While you should be careful not to damage anything by pressing too hard, it is important to remove any earwax or debris which may have lodged themselves in your hearing aids.
- Battery changes – Depending on the hearing aid you choose, you may need to replace your hearing aid batteries weekly. When you change them, briefly clean the contacts to keep corrosion from occurring.
Also, as you put your hearing aids away, pop the battery doors open to keep from having electricity circulate through your hearing aid when you are not using them. In the case of rechargeable hearing aids, always make sure the battery contacts on your hearing aids are clean before placing them on their charger.
- Check your settings – If your hearing aids are not working, it can often be a problem with what program setting is being used. Before you worry too much, check to see if the volume is just too low or if you are using a hearing setting better suited to a different environment.
Aside from hearing aid care performed at home, there is a certain amount of hearing aid care which requires professional help.
Hearing counseling and rehabilitation – To help your experience with hearing aids to be a success, hearing aid counseling and rehabilitation play a vital role. During the counseling, you will receive specific advice on how to use your hearing aids effectively, education concerning hearing aid use, and give you an opportunity to ask any questions you have.
Aural rehabilitation is often provided by professional hearing aid providers. This service provides you with targeted strategies to improve your ability to listen with strengthened hearing and more effective communication.
Hearing aid adjustments – In most cases, hearing aids need to be adjusted several times after the initial fitting before your ideal listening requirements are met. Whether it’s a re-cast earmold or listening programs adjusted, a licensed hearing care provider can help fine-tune your hearing aids. New hearing aid wearers typically start out at about 75% in volume of what they actually need. As they start to wear the hearing aid more and their ears become stronger, they become used to the amplification of sound. What once was loud is no longer loud anymore. Adjustments will be made in the office during the aural rehabilitation process to bring you to your full 100% target gain.
Regular professional cleaning – You should also bring your hearing aids in for professional cleaning every three months. These cleanings can make your hearing aids cleaner than you can make them at home and allow the provider to check to see that the devices are performing optimally.
Hearing aid repairs – Even with the best care, your hearing aids may need to be repaired. Your hearing aid provider may offer free or discounted repairs for the lifetime of the hearing aid. If the hearing aids are damaged beyond what can be repaired in-house, they can be sent to the manufacturer for repairs.
More On Hearing Rehabilitation
Many people expect that their hearing will be significantly improved just by purchasing a customized set of hearing aids when in reality, there is a longer road to hearing rehabilitation beyond obtaining new hearing aids. Upon receiving your new hearing aids, schedule follow up appointments to address your progress with your hearing aids. By visiting your licensed hearing care provider at a minimum of once a month for the first three months, you are significantly more likely to find success and satisfaction with your hearing aids.
By visiting with your hearing care provider regularly, they can help you to fine tune the settings and fit of your hearing aids to get the best use out of them. If you’re finding everyday sounds to be startling and too sharp, this is normal for anyone with new hearing aids. Let your hearing care provider know and they can perform minor adjustments to correct this issue.
If you’re still struggling to hear common sounds around you or conversations in social settings, there is more that your hearing care provider can do to adjust your hearing aids so these things are no longer a problem.
Good listening skills are an essential component to understanding speech more clearly. While it is our ears that hear sounds, it is our brain that processes that sound. Untreated hearing loss can damage our natural ability to decode speech sounds. Auditory training will help you learn to listen while hearing. There is auditory training software that the specialist may use in conjunction with your hearing aids to help you in the aural rehabilitation process. This can be done from the comfort of your own home.
It cannot be stressed enough that every patient’s experience with hearing aids is unique. Depending on your level of hearing loss, fit of your hearing aid, the technology embedded in your hearing devices, and even certain factors related to your lifestyle will have an impact on the time it takes to reach a comfortable level of hearing rehabilitation. The key is to be patient with yourself and continually reach out to your hearing care provider. Their number one goal is to help you restore your ability to hear because they are aware of the incredible impact this skill has on your happiness, health, and quality of life.
Most importantly, do not give up on your hearing aids. With time and attention, they can be an integral part of your life easing many frustrations for yourself and loved ones who wish to communicate better with you.
Hearing Aid Tips
Avoid unnecessary damage to your device with the following tips:
- Store hearing aids in a dry, cool, and secure location.
- When removing your hearing aids, do so over a soft surface in case they are accidentally dropped.
- Wash hands thoroughly before handling the hearing aids to avoid transferring oils and other contaminants.
- Work with a hearing professional to remove excess earwax from your ears and prolong the life of your device.
- Check your hearing aid batteries regularly.
- Clean your hearing aids on a regular basis with a soft, microfiber cloth and toothbrush.
- When you are not using your hearing aids, be sure to turn them off.
- Never get your hearing aids wet.
- Protect your hearing aids from hair sprays, body sprays, and other moisture-producing products.
- Avoid placing hearing aids in direct heat (direct sunlight, hot car, near a heater, sauna, etc).
- Store batteries in room temperature, waterproof casing.
- Do not use unauthorized tools to clean your hearing aids. They can damage the delicate circuitry within and void warranties from the manufacturer.
- Remove hearing aids before an MRI, CAT, or other electromagnetic scans.
Most importantly, don’t avoid your hearing aids. If they are not performing properly or are uncomfortable, work with a hearing professional to correct the issue. With the right care and attention to detail, your hearing aids can be an incredible tool and comfortable part of everyday life.