If you’re planning to get hearing aids for the first time, it helps to be aware that many people report a slight adjustment period involved. According to Starkey Hearing Technologies, more than 585,000 people get their first set of hearing aids annually. While the benefits of hearing aids can be very exciting, it may take you a few weeks before you’re completely comfortable wearing your new devices all the time. Here are some situations you might expect when you first start wearing hearing aids and how to deal with them.
Your voice may sound different
Some people find that when they speak, they notice a “hollow” or “booming” echo-like sound to their own voice. When your ear canals are covered, as is the case with some hearing aids, the sound of your voice can be reflected back in the ear canal, causing that echo-like experience. This is known as the “occlusion effect,” and it’s similar to hearing your own voice when you have a cold. If a few weeks go by and you find this sound bothersome, talk to your audiologist. They can work with your hearing aids to address the occlusion effect.
Noises may sound sharp
Many hearing aid wearers find that when they use the devices for the first time, noises can sound overly sharp. You can work around this by turning the volume of the hearing aids down and gradually working your way up to a higher level over time. After a few weeks of having hearing aids, you shouldn’t notice the sharpness anymore, and your hearing should adjust to your new hearing aids.
“Slowly work your way up to noisier environments.”
You may feel overwhelmed
According to Miracle-Ear, on average, it takes about seven years before people with hearing loss to seek treatment or invest in hearing aids. That’s nearly a decade of adapting to hearing the world without amplification. So when all of the sounds in the world become amplified, it’s understandable that people may become slightly overwhelmed. You may find it difficult to separate sounds you want to hear from background noises. To make your transition easier, try to avoid loud or bustling places like busy restaurants or noisy train stations when you first receive your hearing aids. Slowly work your way up to noisier environments.
Tips for hearing aid wearers
As with any new technology, there are ways to minimize the adjustment period and optimize your experience with your new hearing aids. These practical tips will help allow you to make the most of your hearing aids.
- Start gradually with your hearing aids by wearing them for short periods each day. Aim to wear them a little longer each time. In a few weeks, you should feel more confident wearing them.
- Do not sleep or shower in your hearing aids.
- Avoid tampering with the volume too much. Chances are, your hearing aids are designed to adjust to different levels of noise.
- Open the battery doors on your hearing aids while you sleep to let moisture evaporate.
- Try reading out loud to yourself to adjust to the sound of your voice as well as to adjust your speaking volume.
- Have a family member set the television to a reasonable level so you get used to regular sounds again.
- Participate in group conversations. By practicing actively engaging with a group, you’ll learn to separate background noise from what you actually want to hear.
As always, your audiologist or doctor is the best source for any questions you have about your new hearing aids or advice on coping with the transition.