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Realistic Expectations for Adjusting to Hearing Aids

One of the major keys to success with hearing aids is to have realistic expectations. Hearing loss is a frustrating and complicated impairment to begin with. Frustration occurs when sounds are heard, but not understood. It takes approximately 7 years for a hearing impaired individual to seek treatment for their loss, as the loss typically happens gradually. Consequently over the years certain sounds have not been heard and some sounds may have been forgotten altogether.

Hearing aids are designed to allow the wearer to experience a more normal listening environment. They do not return a person’s hearing back to normal and they do not eliminate environmental noises completely. The use of hearing aids should allow an impaired ear to hear a clock ticking, a fan running, crackling paper and the rustling of clothes, all of which a person with normal hearing can hear with ease. The aid is creating a normal hearing dynamic and it is the individual who determines which sounds to mentally focus on and which sounds are simply peripheral noises.

Individuals who decide to pursue the use of hearing aids must understand and accept the need for an adaptation period. Their auditory system has missed many sounds and has become desensitized by deprivation. This is why the auditory system is more sensitive to sound once it is returned. For this reason a complete hearing evaluation and consultation by a licensed Audiologist is the most important part of pursuing hearing aid options. It is essential that an individual express to their Audiologist specific information regarding where, when and why they need hearing help. Only then can an Audiologist make a recommendation as to which hearing instrument would best suit their needs and discuss realistic expectations.

Hearing aids are exactly that, an aid! The number one reason why a person will return or refuse the use of hearing aids is because of unrealistic expectations. It is unrealistic to think that hearing aids will allow you to conduct a conversation with someone in another room or that you will understand every word on your favorite TV show. However, one should expect that when wearing hearing aids, you are able to understand the majority of conversation in quiet, improve your word understanding in a noisy environment, acknowledge that someone is speaking to you from another room and require a lower volume when watching TV.

In adjusting to the hearing aids, follow-up care with your Audiologist is essential. During these visits you and the Audiologist will discuss your progress and make any needed adjustments. Typically, a new hearing aid wearer will have an adaptation period ranging from 1 to 4 months; experienced wearers also need time to allow the brain to adapt to new subtle tone differences. 

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