Obtaining new hearing aids, whether for the first time or upgrading from older technology, is an adventure and also a compromise. Our audiologists are here to help guide you through your hearing world, and also to address and set aside some common misconceptions of what hearing aid technology can and cannot do.
Listed you will find some realistic expectations for your new hearing experience:
- It is important to realize that hearing aids help make sounds more audible, but they have limits. They certainly help make sounds easier to hear, but they are not a complete substitute for normal hearing. Moving past the idea that your hearing will return to normal, instead try to focus on your improvement with hearing aids, not the times when they don’t let you hear what you want to hear.
- Adjusting to amplification takes time and practice. Your brain needs to relearn how to sort and filter new input that it is receiving. This process can be more successful if you commit to wearing your hearing aids as much as possible. The phrase “practice makes perfect” is true with hearing aid use. Unless your hearing aids become part of your habit through regular use, your brain will not be stimulated long enough to learn to interpret the sounds of your world. This can happen for those who only wear hearing aids when out to social functions.
- Hearing background noise is normal. It’s everywhere. Again, your brain needs time to filter out what sounds are important vs. those sounds that aren’t. Even those with normal hearing struggle to hear in noisy environments.
- At first your voice may sound different to you. Some wearers report that their voice sounds like they are “in a barrel” when they first fit with hearing aids. Over time, your voice will sound more natural to you.
- There may be a “tinny” or mechanical sound. Your hearing aids are amplifying the soft, high-frequency sounds that you have been missing. This may be bothersome at first, but these sounds provide speech clarity that help with speech understanding. Your brain will also need time to be reacquainted with these sounds.
- The typical lifetime of a hearing aid lasts about five to seven years. Just like a car, regular maintenance is required and there may be occasional repairs. The most common problems with hearing aids are caused by moisture and wax. Being near the head and in the ear, hearing aids are exposed to heat, sweat, wax, dirt, etc, and these environments are harmful to electronics. Please clean your hearing aids daily and bring them in for routine checks.
These are only a handful unrealistic expectations, but they are very common. Please be patient and don’t give up. Our audiologists at Constance Brown Hearing Centers are here to advise you and guide you through your hearing world. If you need an appointment or have any questions, our friendly staff can be reached at (269) 343-2601.
By Amanda Knapp, Audiologist