In an ideal world as soon as you put a hearing aid into your ear for the first time you would hear perfectly.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are many sounds your brain is not used to hearing. Everyday sounds that you paid no attention to may now seem really loud or shrill. While it may take your brain a little while to get used to this, there are some things you can do to expedite the process.
Approaching the adjustment process with realistic expectations is crucial. To get accustomed to the feeling of a device in your ear, try to wear the hearing aids every day. Wear the device for as long as you comfortably can and each day, try to wear it slightly longer than the day before. You can start out wearing your hearing aid in a quiet room, getting used to your own voice and quiet sounds. You should wear your hearing aid in listening environments you are typically in; for example, if you attend community meetings every week you should make sure you attend.
Throughout the first few weeks of using your hearing aid you should write down everything. This can include times your hearing aid felt uncomfortable, times you couldn’t hear well or times the hearing aid seemed too loud. These notes should then be given to your audiologist at your first follow-up visit. They will assist in fine tuning your hearing aid if appropriate.
Training programs have been proven to accelerate the adjustment period. These programs contain listening exercises designed to fine-tune your sense of hearing while using your new hearing aid. These exercises focus on a number of things such as loudness scaling, perception of everyday sounds, basic auditory skills and word and timbre discrimination.
These trainings usually also provide educational information to help you understand hearing loss, how to take proper care of your hearing aid and strategies on how to improve your communication skills. Trainings like these have been shown to improve basic auditory skills, cognitive skills, speech understanding, quality of life and long-term satisfaction with hearing aids.
Trainings like these can take on many forms. Some hearing clinics offer one-on-one or small group sessions. Hospitals and healthcare centers provide trainings as well. The newest and most convenient option is computer training programs. These trainings contain interactive audiology exercises that can be completed in your free time and in the comfort of your own home. These at-home training programs usually provide you with daily exercises at various difficulty levels. They will cover basic listening skills, selective hearing, word recognition and understanding speech.
If you are interested in completing a training program or would like more information on the adjustment process, contact Dr. Livingston (Central Florida Hearing Services) at (863) 386-9111.