New hearing aids? Take a few minutes to read this before you put them in your ears
You’re about to start wearing new hearing aids — what an exciting time! Finally, you’ll be able to converse more easily with family and friends, and you’ll enjoy the many sounds you’ve been missing, from beeping alarms to the sounds of nature.
Before you slip those state-of-the-art devices in your ears for the first time, you should understand one important fact: It may take your brain a while to adjust to the improvement in your hearing ability. You see, hearing actually occurs in your brain, even though your ears are responsible for collecting the sounds around you.
With your new hearing aids, you may temporarily experience any or all of the following:
- An acute awareness of sounds you haven’t heard for a long time, such as your stomach rumbling or the hum of a refrigerator motor
- Your own voice sounding too loud or unnatural
- In loud environments, difficulty separating voices and sounds you want to hear from unwanted background noise
The good news is, these and other sensations will gradually fade away as your brain adapts to amplification. With time and patience, your hearing aids will become almost like natural extensions of your ears.
Seven tips for a successful transition
Following are seven tips for making a successful transition to your new hearing aids:
- Start by wearing your hearing aids for just an hour or two a day, or as instructed by your hearing healthcare provider. This will help prevent “brain fatigue.”
- Initially, wear your hearing aids in quieter environments, such as at home or in a library. Then slowly take on listening in noisier, more crowded settings.
- Practice good conversation habits. Directly face people who are talking to you; this will help your brain reconnect the dots between sounds, vocal patterns and nonverbal body language.
- Read aloud to yourself. You’ll become more accustomed to the sound of your own voice.
- Set realistic expectations. While hearing aids are technological marvels, they cannot restore natural hearing ability. Also, remember that even “normal hearing” people can have trouble hearing conversations in noisy places.
- Keep your aftercare appointments, and let your provider know if you’re continuing to experience issues. Also, writing down your perceptions during the course of a day can be helpful for your provider.
- Maintain a positive attitude. People who are determined to improve their hearing ability are most likely to realize the greatest benefit from their hearing aids.
As you may have realized by now, wearing a new set of hearing aids is different from putting on a new pair of glasses and getting immediate gratification. But with time, commitment and patience, you’ll enjoy the benefits you originally expected with your hearing aids.