For some people, their first experience with wearing a new hearing aid can be a rather unpleasant surprise. Loud sounds might sound painfully loud, voices may sound tinny or far away, and you may have trouble interpreting what people are saying. What you may not realize is that your brain has adjusted to your limited hearing, and needs time to adjust back to being able to hear normally again. You probably didn't notice the first adjustment, as hearing loss tends to be very gradual. That's why getting it back all at once can come as such a shock. Take a look at some tips that can help you make the transition to better hearing.
There's no rule that says that you have to go straight out into a noisy restaurant or rush hour traffic wearing your new hearing aids. In fact, you probably shouldn't. Give your ears and your brain some time to adjust in surroundings that are relatively quiet, and where most of the noises are familiar, like your own home.
Don't try to wear the hearing aid full time at first if it bothers you. For the first few days, wear the hearing aid only at home and only for as long as you're comfortable. The benefit of not wearing the hearing aid out in the first few days is that at home, you'll only be hearing the same sounds that you hear every day and know well, so they'll be easy for your ear to interpret. This is an easy way for your brain and ear to get used to hearing through the hearing aid.
Practice Difficult Situations
Once you feel comfortable wearing the hearing aids at home, it's time to take them out for a spin in the rest of the world. You probably don't think of hearing as something you need to practice, but that's exactly what you're doing as you adjust to the hearing aids – you're practicing hearing through your new hearing device.
Go to a baseball game or a crowded restaurant, and bring a friend. One of the things that you'll need to re-learn how to do is to separate the sound you're listening for from background noise. That's what you need to be able to do to have a conversation while a crowd cheers around you or a waitress drops a stack of plates behind you. At first, this may be uncomfortable – you may have trouble separating the sounds you want to hear from the background noise, and everything may seem too loud. But with time and practice, you'll get used to it again. The ability to separate sounds is an important one in many situations – such as when you're driving – so it's one that's worth working on.
Don't expect to be comfortable with your new hearing aids right away, or even in a couple of days. It takes time to adjust to the new way of hearing. However, if you stick with it, you'll find that your improved ability to interact with the world is worth it.
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