Learn what you can do to use your new hearing aid correctly.
Is your hearing aid uncomfortable? Does your own voice sound too loud? Do you hear a whistle? Are you having trouble distinguishing voices from background noise? These are common problems for someone wearing a hearing aid for the first time. They are also some reasons why people stop wearing their aids. And yet, almost all these problems can be solved.
Like wearing glasses for the first time, adjusting to hearing aids takes practice and patience. Be realistic. Just as a pair of glasses does not restore normal sight, hearing aids do not restore normal hearing or eliminate all background noise. In fact, hearing aids may allow you to hear sounds in the environment you haven’t heard for awhile. At first that may be confusing or irritating and keep you from distinguishing the sounds you want to hear from those you don’t. Taking the time to properly adjust can make the difference between getting the most out of your aids and tossing them in the drawer in frustration.
Using your hearing aid
The first step in adjusting is understanding how to use and care for your hearing aids. Be sure to learn from your audiologist how to put them in and take them out, how to identify the right and left ones, how to adjust the volume control and the proper cleaning techniques. If you feel you need a refresher course, make an appointment to learn these basics.
Next, if you haven’t already been given a suggested wearing schedule or it’s not working well, talk with your audiologist about customizing an adjustment period just for you. Ask about when and where you should be testing the aid. Usually, it’s best to begin wearing your aid in quiet surroundings, only gradually increasing the amount of noise in the environment. Set time limits for wearing your device each day to reduce discomfort.
Be sure to tell your audiologist about any problems. When an aid “whistles,” it is typically due to an improper fit or buildup of wax or fluid in the ear. Hearing your own voice sound too loud is called occlusion. Your audiologist can help with both problems or suggest programs that help you cope. If you have only one hearing aid and have trouble determining where sound is coming from or hearing in a noisy place, getting a second aid may help.
Keeping a diary
While adjusting, keep a diary. Each time you wear your aids in a new environment, note how well you hear and what problems you have. Then discuss concerns with your audiologist. Practicing a little patience with yourself and with your aids will go a long way to hearing better.