Learning to Hear Again with Hearing Aids

Part I Realistic Expectations

Expectations are often very high for first hearing aid users. Patients will say that they can’t hear EVERYTHING when they have their hearing aids in. What is wrong with that statement?

People who gradually acquire hearing loss often forget what it was like before they were hard of hearing. They may believe that at one point they heard everything because hearing seemed effortless. But in reality normal hearing people do not hear EVERYTHING. How normal hearing people hear varies around 80-100% in quiet situations and depend on the speaker, the environment, the topic, interest in the topic, distractability, etc, etc. In noisy situations normal hearing people will be challenged to hear with 60-80% accuracy and the same factors apply here as well.

Whether hearing impaired or normal hearing people will use context to fill in the blank. When listening to a person talk if you get 80% correct you can probably guess the missing parts. For example: “the American flag is red, ____ and ____.” You can fill in the blanks easily based on context and probably guess correctly. In addition to context there are facial cues and lipreading cues. Normal hearing people use these cues often without realizing it.