Is there an adjustment period to wearing hearing aids?
It can take up to four months for you to get accustomed to your hearing aids and to really get the most out of them. You will notice small changes right from the start, but it’s important to be patient. If you have questions or concerns about your progress, be sure to call your hearing professional for help. Hearing aids often need to be adjusted several times during the trial period. This is a team effort, so do not be afraid to speak up.
Remember that your hearing loss has been gradual; over the years you have lost the ability to hear certain sounds in the speech spectrum and normal sounds of the environment, such as traffic and wind noise, the hum of machinery and other background noises.
When you begin to wear hearing aids, these sounds will be restored but your brain will need practice and re-education in order to selectively focus on and filter sounds. Some sounds may even startle you at first. Know that your brain will acclimate to these sounds again over time.
It takes time to adapt to hearing aids. Wear them as much as possible at first to become more skilled at recognising sound direction and to learn which hearing aid settings work best for you in different situations.
The adjustment period may be tiresome. It’s a lot like retraining a muscle that has not been used in a while. But the benefits will be worth it after you’ve made the adjustment.
Getting hearing aids to treat hearing loss is an important step, but it's not the finish line. Adapting to hearing aids is more like learning how to drive than it is learning how to read with new glasses. It’s a process that takes time, commitment, education and patience.
Five steps to hearing success
The following principles have been used by thousands of hearing aid wearers to successfully transition to better hearing health:
Surprisingly, the first step begins before the purchase of hearing aids. Accepting your permanent hearing loss prepares you to get the help you need to begin your journey towards better hearing.
- Positive attitude
Step two is about making a personal choice to achieve better hearing with a positive attitude. Simply purchasing hearing aids does not signal success. To overcome hearing loss, you must have a desire to learn and determination to increase your ability to hear. Those who approach hearing aid use with a positive attitude are far more likely to achieve success.
Step three, the most effective remedy for hearing loss is personal education. The more you know about your hearing loss and treatment, the more actively you can participate in your adjustment to hearing aid use. Hearing requires more than the ears. It is a complex function that requires the cooperation of the brain and your other senses.
- Realistic expectations
The fourth step towards success is to set realistic expectations. Hearing aids will help you hear better — but not perfectly. Focus on your improvement and remember the learning curve can take anywhere from six weeks to six months. Success comes from practice and commitment.
Read about managing auditory confusion
When you first begin to use hearing aids, your brain will be startled to receive signals it has been missing. The brain needs time to become familiar again with the high-frequency sounds of speech and environmental noises.
Re-acclimating your brain to true sound, after years of distortion caused by hearing loss, can be challenging. Your perceptions will improve over time, as the true sounds of everyday life are re-introduced to your consciousness after not being heard for years.
At first, all sounds will seem loud. The true pitch of the telephone, the sound of your clothes rustling as you walk, the whoosh of your air conditioner or the hum of your refrigerator motor will seem loud in relation to other sounds. These sounds will become part of your subconscious again as your brain begins to prioritise them.
- Practice and patience
Finally, the fifth step towards success is a combination of practice, time and patience. Once you have logged sufficient hours for your brain to acclimate, you will be able to hear without thinking so much about hearing.
It’s a good idea to begin with a schedule in which you wear your hearing aids part-time and gradually work up to wearing them from the time you rise until the time you go to bed.
Many hearing professionals recommend listening to books on tape as a way to practice hearing and understanding. In the first few weeks, if it is too tiring, rest. Then try again. Reach out for support and stick with it. The payoff is immense.