Putting on a hearing aid for the first time will certainly change your life; Being able to finally hear clearly again after experiencing hearing loss is definitely something to be celebrated. However, this new lease of hearing will also involve some lifestyle changes which may take some time adjusting to at first. Here’s what you need to know about getting used to hearing aids if you are a first timer.
Naturally, the new feeling of having a foreign object hooked around your ear and/or embedded in your ear canal for a majority of the day might cause some discomfort at the start. However, a properly fitted and prescribed hearing aid should feel relatively comfortable after the initial introductory period. Wearing a hearing aid should also be painless – make sure you highlight any pain during your fitting, if any. Your hearing centre should also offer follow-up appointments for fine-tuning and volume adjustment a week or two after your first fitting.
Although a hearing aid will help those with hearing loss hear better, the way different noises are amplified may be slightly different from normal. A regular conversation in a quiet room could sound different from one carried out in a crowded indoor environment or outdoors. Even your own voice may not sound the same as what you recall it to be.
While regular speech and moderate sounds will become much clearer with a hearing aid, so will background noise. This can be anything from traffic to loud surrounding conversations in restaurants and shopping malls, or buzzing made by electrical appliances in the home. Suddenly, the seemingly inconsequential noises that were once part of everyday life might become overly noticeable, and the sensory overload can initially be overwhelming.
If your hearing aid is the type that comes with rechargeable batteries, this is something you will have to factor into your day to day. Forgetting to do so will result in great inconvenience, so set reminders for this until it becomes part of your daily routine. Taking time to clean your hearing aid for hygiene purposes should also be done regularly.
The good news is – most people get used to wearing a hearing aid in a matter of months. For starters, try wearing your hearing aid for just a few hours in a day at home, and taking short breaks in between. Gradually, increase the duration, reduce the breaks, and go on to try it out in different environments to re-familiarize yourself with the myriad of everyday sounds you might encounter.
Over time, your brain will be able to rewire and alter its perception of how it registers noises, and you will get used to how different sounds have changed for you in various settings.
If you are someone who spends a lot of time outdoors or in relatively noisy environments, it would help to get a hearing aid that comes with volume control and helps filter out background sounds.
Other than helping one regain clarity in hearing and experience sounds they were previously missing out on, a hearing aid comes with plenty of other positive effects, once you get over the initial adjustment period:
Hearing aids come with a small degree of maintenance and can last between 3 to 7 years depending on brand and usage.
Batteries will need to be changed from time to time. If your device is not going to be used for a few days, it is recommended that batteries are removed for that period. When replacing batteries, make sure the inside of the device as well as the batteries themselves are clean and dry – using a piece of tissue paper or cotton bud to wick away moisture will help. This ensures optimum connectivity and performance.
For hygiene purposes, clean your hearing aid daily before going to bed. There are special cleaning tools and brushes you can purchase specifically for this purpose. Aside from that, hearing aids usually come with wax filters which prevent earwax from spoiling the mechanism of the device – make sure those are changed whenever they are dirty.
Daily at-home maintenance aside, it is recommended to visit a hearing centre every half a year or so to get your hearing aid professionally deep cleaned. Apart from maintaining personal hygiene, this also helps prolong the life of your device, saving you money on replacements in the long run.