Congratulations! You’ve taken the plunge and purchased a pair of hearing aids. However, now that you’ve worn them for a little while, maybe certain things still don’t sound as you expected. Adapting to hearing aids requires time, patience, and setting realistic expectations. Here are some things you need to keep in mind.
Hearing aids cannot restore your hearing 100 percent.
Unlike glasses that can have you seeing 20/20 again, hearing aids can only improve, but not completely restore, natural hearing. What they should do is help you hear sounds you’ve been missing entirely since your hearing diminished, and make speech clearer and easier to understand.
It takes time for your brain to adapt to hearing again.
If you’ve ever made the transition from regular glasses to bifocals, you’ll recall it took some time to get used to looking at things close up and far away, but eventually it became so natural you stopped noticing whether you were looking through the upper or lower halves of your lenses. That’s because your brain got used to the images being filtered through the lenses and adjusted over time. When it comes to hearing aids, the amount of time it takes to adapt to hearing again is usually longer, especially if you have more hearing loss. At first, it may seem you’re being inundated by noise because the amplification restores your ability to hear ambient sounds. Your brain might be overwhelmed for a while as it tries to pay attention to all the new sounds coming in at once. However, with patience and time, your brain will once again relegate things like wind noise or a humming dryer into the background as it learns to focus on the speech, music, or other sounds you actively want to hear.
You will need to have your hearing aids fine-tuned throughout their lifetime.
It’s not unusual to return to your hearing care professional (HCP) at least a few times within the first few weeks or months after an initial fitting for adjustments because your hearing aids don’t sound quite right. That’s why you should try to wear them as often as possible from the beginning, so you can experience how they make everything sound in a range of different environments. That way, when you see your HCP for follow-up visits, you can explain which situations are still posing a challenge (e.g., you can hear fine in your quiet house but you still can’t understand people well in a crowded restaurant). This will allow the HCP to make more informed, precise adjustments and hopefully reduce the need for additional follow-up appointments.
Unfortunately, hearing often continues to decline as part of the natural aging process, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself needing to return to your HCP when, after a few years or so of wear your hearing aids, they stop working as well as they used to. They probably just need to be adjusted to suit your current level of hearing ability. However, like all electronic devices, your hearing aids will eventually need to be replaced. Most hearing aids last an average of five years, although some can go longer with proper care and maintenance, and assuming your hearing needs don’t change drastically over time.
Advances in hearing aid technology.
The good news is that with advances in telehealth options, you might not always need to go to into your HCP’s office for adjustments anymore. Thanks to Signia’s TeleCare™ offering and the associated myHearing App™ for patients, many minor hearing aid adjustments can now be done remotely, from the comfort of your own home. Your HCP is able to use data provided by your hearing aids and the myHearing App to identify exactly which environments are presenting a hearing challenge and fine-tune your hearing aids to improve their performance in these challenging settings. This saves you time and the need to travel for in-office appointments. So, whether you’re about to make your first appointment with a hearing care professional or are already working with one, make sure you ask them if they have TeleCare and are able to coach you through downloading the myHearing App during your next appointment.