When you first start hearing better with hearing aids, ther's a little bit of an adjustment period. The first few days with your new devices are essential to your success and satisfaction, because they can influence whether or not you continue to use your devices. These 13 tips and tricks will help your adjustment go as smoothly as possible so that youíll be more likely to keep enjoying your new hearing aids for years to come. That way, you can keep living life to its fullest through better hearing.
1. Don’t get discouraged if they feel funny at first.
Just like your nose might need to get used to the feeling of eyeglasses resting on it, your ears needs a little time to adjust to the feeling of your hearing aids. You may be able to feel the devices in your ears, but that will go away in a few days. If you are wearing ones that sit over your ears and you also wear glasses, just be careful when placing them and removing your glasses. You will have space behind your ear and your glasses will find the ďreal estateĒ comfortably along with your new hearing aids.
2. At first, only wear them for a few hours a day.
If you need to, itís okay to only wear your new devices in comfortable situations and environments for the first few days. Professionals recommend that you eventually try to wear them during your waking hours. The more sounds you are able to recognize and filter out as well as identify as bothersome can help your hearing healthcare professional make adjustments in your follow-up visits. Also, the more you wear your hearing aids, even in quiet situations when you are at home, the more sounds you will be able to detect and filter so that when you are in a noisy environment, your brain will have been able to acclimate faster.
3. Start out in a quiet room.
On the first day, sit in a quiet room in your house and start getting used to your rediscovered ability to hear faint sounds, like the ticking of a clock or a car driving by outside. These might seem unnaturally loud at first because your brain isnít used to hearing them. Itís all a part of your brainís adjustment and wonít last long. Some hearing healthcare professionals encourage you to write things down that you are noticing that may be bothersome to you. Before you return to your next follow-up visit, glance at your list and you may notice that some of those sounds arenít bothersome any longer. If you find that some still are, those are the ones to report to your hearing healthcare professional to be adjusted at your follow-up visit.
4. Don’t play with the volume too much.
Itís likely that your hearing aids adjust to different listening situations automatically, so they shouldnít need to be manually adjusted very often. If you do turn them up, donít make the volume too loud. Donít try to make your devices do what fully-functioning ears canít do, like hear faint sounds from very far away; they donít work that way, and you can damage your hearing more by doing that.
5. Practice talking to people in groups.
Start having conversations with your close friends and family, as familiar voices are the easiest to identify. Hearing still requires active listening, which means making sure you face the speaker and look right at them while theyíre talking. This will help your brain reconnect the dots between sounds, vocal patterns, and nonverbal body language.
6. Ask your friends or family to set the television to a “normal” volume.
Now that you have your new hearing aids, you shouldnít need to turn the television up louder than a person with normal hearing would. Ask someone else to help you find an appropriate volume, and try to use that setting consistently.
7. Watch with captions or subtitles.
Listening to and reading words at the same time is a great way to help retrain your brain to connect sounds and language. Turn on your televisionís closed captioning and enable subtitles when you watch a movie.
8. Listen to a book’s audio recording while you read.
This tip is similar to #7 and accomplishes the same goal. Next time you read a book, listen to a recording while you read it in your printed copy. If you donít have any audiobooks, you can also have someone read to you out loud while you follow along on your own.
9. Read aloud to yourself.
The sound of your own voice might sound funny to you at first, but this will also resolve itself after a few days. If you read to yourself out loud, this will help you get used to your voice more quickly and, if necessary, retrain yourself to speak at an appropriate volume.
10. Close your eyes and do some listening exercises.
Try to identify the direction from which sounds are coming without looking around. You can also try to use only your hearing to discern between different types of sounds or speech patterns.
11. Take advantage of looping systems if your hearing aid has a telecoil.
Many churches, theaters, and other public places are equipped with looping systems that emit wireless signals to be received by the telecoil in hearing aids that are equipped with one. Some telephones have looping systems as well. Ask your hearing healthcare provider if your device has a telecoil, and, if so, be sure to request that they activate it when they fit and program your device.
12. Talk on the phone more easily by positioning it over your hearing aid’s microphone.
If you donít have a telecoil in your hearing aid or if your telephone doesnít have the ability to connect to one, you can tilt the phone forward slightly so that itís right over your deviceís microphone. This will help your device pick up the phoneís sound waves as efficiently as possible. For devices that are behind the ear, the microphone is usually located on the portion of the hearing aid that is behind the ear. Angling the phone helps reduce any possible feedback when holding the phone up to your ear/microphone.
13. Gradually work your way up until you’re wearing them all day long.
After about two weeks, you should be wearing your hearing aids during all your waking hours (except while you shower or swim, of course). This consistency is important for your brainís adjustment to amplification and will ensure that your devices help your hearing as much as they possibly can.
Hearing aids are life-changing! Now that youíre experiencing the benefits that come with hearing better, urge a loved one to visit a hearing health provider too with these 7 tips to help a family member get a hearing test.