The Onset of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss generally happens slowly over time and the subtle way surrounding sounds are changing often go unnoticed. Over time, our brains slowly get used to how the world sounds around us even if we are not hearing it the same as a person with normal hearing does. The separation between background noise and speech sounds continues to shrink ever so slowly until we realize it has become a habit to ask people to repeat themselves.
However, while we may not notice the onset of hearing loss, we most assuredly do notice when our gradually lost hearing is suddenly replaced by a high-tech object resting in our ear canal. Especially when this object is now able to restore the ability to hear and use sounds that would otherwise be perceived as unusable noise! While there is little doubt that wearing hearing aids is a great benefit and brings about a life altering change, it also takes some getting used to.
By knowing what changes to expect you’ll find it easier to adapt to restored hearing.
What To Expect
At this point, you may be wondering what sounds will change and how long it takes the average person to become comfortable with their new hearing aids. The answers depend on the amount and type of hearing loss you have:
- Noticeable Hearing Loss – Correcting your hearing loss when it’s first noticeable is the easiest and best time to do it. Expect soft sounds to be louder, especially high pitched sounds like the “TH” sound in the word “this”. Overall, you can expect an improved perception of clarity rather than an increase in volume. Many sharp sounding squeaks and rattles have frequencies near that of consonants as well, so expect them to be louder than usual.
- Moderate Hearing Loss – People with this level of loss stand to gain the most from wearing hearing aids. This also means that there is more change to get used to. Nearly all sounds will be louder, not just sharp sounds, so be prepared to accept a louder world than it has been.
- Severe to Profound Hearing Loss - Hearing aids are essential for people dealing with severe and worse hearing loss. The difference wearing hearing aids makes over not wearing them is life-changing. Expect understanding speech in moderate and above noise levels to still be a problem, but less of one, and a big improvement in speech discrimination in low noise.
There are two main strategies for getting used to wearing hearing aids:
- The Quick Start Method. This method means wearing the hearing aids all day, with only a few 30-minute breaks. The breaks act as a reset; when the hearing aids are reinserted your brain is expecting the new level of sound and adapts quickly.
- The Gradual Method. By setting a schedule with increasing hours of wear each day, it gives the auditory complex time to adjust to, and relearn to use sounds that are inaudible without amplification.
Either way, you choose works as long as you stick with it.
During the first few weeks of adapting to new hearing aids, we suggest that you resist adjusting your hearing aids to every change in sound level. Instead, learn to focus on deciphering where sounds come from and what they mean. To get the most out of your new hearing aids - and to become proficient at using the speech cues regained by amplification - it generally takes about three to four weeks.
Learning to live with hearing loss is harder than adjusting to wearing hearing aids. And properly adjusted, well-maintained hearing aids are the easiest to adapt to your new and improved lifestyle.
We’re here to help with that so you get the most out of your new hearing aids! We are available for support at 888-570-2740.