Hearing aids capture the world of sound for those of us who struggle to hear the whole sound picture. Without hearing aids or other assistive device many hard of hearing people would experience isolation and resulting depression, relationship struggles and more. Hearing aids connect people to people and to the world around us. The benefits are many, but many people do not know what to expect from a hearing aid and this blog will give you some pointers.

Should I expect perfect hearing from a hearing aid? Answer: No. Hearing aids do not correct hearing, nor are they a cure for hearing loss. Hearing aids “aid your hearing” they allow you to benefit from the hearing that you have left.

Will I be able to hear at the dinner table? Answer: Yes. For most hearing aid users listening to a conversation with a few people at the dinner table in their own home is no problem. This is also a good place to practice good communication strategies. (see blog for Communication Strategies).

Will I be able to hear in background noise? Answer: Yes and No. You should not expect to hear without effort even with hearing aids in noisy listening situations; even people with normal hearing will have to work harder to hear in noise. This is a challenging listening situation where many people find hearing aids fall short. However, modern hearing aids have special features to make it easier to communicate in noisy places. Most people should experience some improvement with hearing aids over no hearing aids at all in background noise (assuming hearing aids have the noise features). In addition there are other products on the market that can be used with a hearing aid to improve your ability to hear in noise called Assistive Listening Devices (ALD).

Will loud noises hurt my ears when I wear hearing aids? Answer: No. When you first start to wear hearing aids everything will seem too loud because the sounds in your environment are being heard as if for the first time again. It takes time for the brain to adjust to hearing again. And some sounds may even seem like noise at first until you learn to recognize the sounds correctly. Hearing aids that are programmed corrected for your measured hearing loss as well as your perceived loudness threshold will control loud sounds from being too loud for you. Hearing aids employ compression. Compression does what you might guess from the name; it “compresses” sounds to keep sound levels from reaching your uncomfortable level. This is just one of many ways your hearing aid is acting like a mini computer and “thinking” for your ears.

Will my hearing aids be comfortable? Answer: Yes. It is reasonable to expect your hearing aids should be comfortable in your ears. If you have a hearing aid that is causing a sore spot it may need remade or it may need adjusted or perhaps you need some advice on the best way to put it in your ear.

Will I be able to adjust to hearing aids? Answer: Yes. It takes time to adjust to hearing aids, but it can be done. The brain has to be retrained and for some that can mean a month or so, for others it can mean several months or maybe a year of adjusting. The time it takes to adjust is call “acclimatization period” and it is different for everyone. There are ways to help. First, wear the prescribed hearing aid(s). If you were fit with two hearing aids, you need to wear both. Each ear sends information to the brain differently and the brain needs all the information to sort out the world of sounds around you. Secondly, wear your hearing aids all day. Just like getting used to glasses, dentures, jewelry or contact lenses, the more you wear it the more it seems like part of your body. Once you become used to wearing it, you will miss it when you don’t’ have it on. The same is true for hearing aids. Not only for the physical comfort but for auditory comfort. Follow the wear schedule that your audiologist recommends. Typically new users start at 8 hours/day and experienced users should be wearing their hearing aid all day (from breakfast to bedtime stories).

This information is brought to you by Dr. Yoder of HearWell Center. For more information about HearWell Center please visit our website www.hearwellcenter.com