So you’ve just started wearing hearing aids. Good for you! Your new aids are the best thing you can do to keep yourself physically and socially active with hearing loss. They’ll even help you to avoid some of the more serious complications related to hearing loss, such as higher risk of falls, depression, social isolation, and cognitive decline.
Like anything new we bring into our lives, new hearing aids will probably inspire some questions. Well, we’ve got answers! Let’s take a look at some of the common questions that new wearers tend to have about their hearing aids, and help you get a sense of what to expect. If you don’t see the answer you’re looking for, it’s always a good idea to reach out to your hearing healthcare provider!
How Long Will It Take To Adjust To My New Hearing Aids?
Some people will start feeling comfortable with their hearing aids immediately, especially those with mild hearing loss. The sooner we start treating hearing loss once it sets in, the less of a gap we experience in our hearing ability and the easier it will be for our brain to make sense of what’s coming in. For those whose hearing loss has gone untreated for a while, it will likely take some time to redevelop the brain’s auditory cortex.
Most people are instructed by their hearing care provider about how to adjust to their new hearing aids. This usually involves wearing them for a few hours a day, and eventually working up to wearing them during all waking hours.
Nearly everyone new to hearing aids will need a little time to get used to hearing all the small things in life again. While some of these will be pleasant—like birds singing—others might be downright annoying. The shuffling of feet on the floor, the fridge buzzing, clocks ticking—it might take some getting used to, again. But don’t worry! These sounds slipped into the background before hearing loss, and they will again once you get used to your hearing aids.
If you’re still having a hard time adjusting to your hearing aids after a few weeks, contact your hearing healthcare provider for adjustments or counseling.
What Are the Side Effects of Wearing Hearing Aids?
With a well-programmed, well-fitted pair of hearing aids, there should be no side effects! If you experience soreness, pain, bleeding or irritation, something is abnormal. You should remove your hearing aids and contact your hearing care provider for a fitment adjustment. Some people may experience “itchy ears,” which your hearing care provider can treat easily.
Why Doesn’t Music Sound Right?
Hearing aids are programmed to prioritize speech. With this programming, music can sound flattened or dulled. But hearing aids allow for multiple programs to be switched through when you encounter different environments. Some hearing aids now feature automatic music algorithms that help make music sound better, or your hearing care provider can add a program for music that will allow it to sound more natural.
How Long Should My Hearing Aids Last?
The typical set of hearing aids can be worn for 3–7 years before needing replacement. That range is so wide because there are so many factors that can affect the lifespan of a hearing aid. The climate you live in, the activities you pursue while wearing your hearing aids, your body chemistry, and regular maintenance practices will all affect how long your hearing aids last. Often people replace their hearing aids to take advantage of new technology improvements.
Most hearing aid repairs made out-of-warranty are moisture-related. The delicate electronics inside your hearing aids will eventually incur damage if they are exposed to moisture regularly. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as keeping your hearing aids away from water. Environmental moisture accumulates inside the hearing aids over time. Talk to your hearing care provider about how to minimize the effects of moisture on your hearing aids.
Will Hearing Aids Make My Hearing Loss Worse?
No, a well-programmed set of hearing aids will not contribute to additional hearing loss. Your hearing aids are programmed to provide amplification only in the specific areas of the frequency spectrum where you need it. If you experience pain or discomfort due to the volume of sound from your hearing aids, something is wrong and you should have their programming adjusted immediately. This is a concerning aspect for hearing care professionals about the new OTC hearing aids that will be available soon, on which users will self-program.
For most people, hearing loss progresses to a certain level and then plateaus there. The point where it plateaus is different for everybody. It may be that your hearing aids need to be reprogrammed periodically to accommodate your changing needs, and some people will need to switch hearing aid models to a more powerful set at some point.
Wearing hearing aids is one of the best things we can do to maintain our health and well-being after hearing loss becomes an issue. While it may take some time to adjust, the pay-off for sticking with them is tremendous!