Adjusting to hearing aids

Many people are surprised to learn that there is a hearing aid adjustment period when you first start using these hearing devices. This is normal, and although things may sound a bit strange at first, this will settle down as you get used to experiencing the world in a new way.

Here, we’ve created a hearing aid adjustment guide to help you through, taking a look at some of the new hearing aid side effects that you may experience and what you can do to adjust to this new phase of your life.

What is the hearing aid adjustment period?

It’s normal to find wearing hearing aids a bit strange at first, particularly if you’ve never used them before. Some say getting used to wearing hearing aids is a bit like learning to drive a car – a task that might seem odd or difficult at first but feels completely natural once you get used to it. The feeling of having foreign objects in your ears and experiencing unfamiliar background noises can be uncomfortable – but patience and persistence pay off.

The first two weeks with your hearing aids are the most crucial; however, the whole hearing aid adjustment period can be anywhere from four to six months – meaning it can take this long to adjust fully. Wearing your hearing aids daily will help your ears and brain get used to your new reality.

Hearing aid adjustment guide

While a new pair of glasses instantly improve our vision, the mechanics involved with hearing aid adjustments work a little differently. While it depends on the cause of your hearing loss, there’s a good chance it came on gradually over time – and so, improving hearing with hearing aids takes time too. Why? It involves retraining your brain to understand and interpret what it hears again. So while you’ll likely notice minor improvements early on with your new hearing aids, expect it will take some time to get the full benefits of your new device/s.

One of the things many people notice first – and perhaps one of the most startling new hearing aid side effects – is that their voice sounds very different or much louder. The reason for this is two-fold: firstly, the tip in your ear modifies the acoustics of your ear canal. Secondly, your hearing aid may also receive some of your voice through its microphones, making it seem like your voice is louder than before.

Another common side effect new hearing aid wearers report is that sounds generally seem ‘unnatural’. While it might be tempting to stop wearing your hearing aids, it’s important not to give up if this happens to you – speak to your audiologist about any potential adjustments and remember, persistence and patience are key.

New hearing aid side effects

The first few weeks after being fitted with hearing aids can be a big adjustment. Here are some of the typical things you may notice:

  • If you have a pair of hearing aids, your ears may feel slightly blocked at first. This is normal, and you will get used to it soon.
  • Don’t be surprised if you hear more echoes at first. This happens because you’re now hearing natural reverberations your ears haven’t picked up for a while. It will take your brain a few weeks to get used to the change.
  • It’s not unusual to feel a bit tired or irritable in the first few days of wearing hearing aids. Your brain simply needs time to adjust to all the new sounds. As you get used to these changes, hearing becomes less of an effort.
  • Things may sound a bit different – slightly louder, reverberant, or even slightly higher pitched. This is because your new hearing aids are picking up the full range of sounds.
  • Modern hearing aids automatically adjust to different sound levels. However, they will not take background noise away wholly. Instead, they try to lift voices above the noise to allow normal communication.

When to seek help

Many people who wear hearing aids for the first time experience some slight irritation or itchiness in the ear, however, they should not be painful. If you’re feeling any pain or ongoing discomfort, speak to your audiologist immediately, as they may be able to fit you with a different size or type of hearing aid that’s better suited to you. 

Tips and tricks to adjust to new hearing aids

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when adjusting to new hearing aids is to be patient. Remember, hearing loss that has happened gradually will take some time to build back up again, and it takes practice to use hearing aids. Wearing your hearing devices as much as possible at first will help you better recognise the direction sound is coming from and learn about the best settings on your device for different situations.

It’s also important to give yourself a chance to rest. Retraining your brain with the use of hearing aids is tiring and, like building any other muscle, requires recovery periods.

Try these additional tips to help you through your hearing aid adjustment period:

  • Start by wearing your new hearing aids for a few hours daily and aim to build up to a full day by the end of this weekly cycle.
  • Try these exercises during the first seven days with your new hearing aids:
    • Watch TV for at least 30 minutes.
    • Listen to music or the radio for up to an hour.
    • Have a conversation in a group (perhaps over a family meal).
    • Visit a café with friends.
    • Go for a drive as a passenger. Listen for the indicator.
    • Stand in another room and ask someone to ring your home phone.
    • Phone someone you know and have a conversation.
    • Go to the local shops or supermarket and do your regular shopping.

We're here to help you to better hearing

If something doesn't feel right or you have any questions or concerns, contact your local Bay Audiology specialist as soon as possible. Hearing aid adjustments are sometimes required to give the wearer the best experience.

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