When you first get a hearing aid, you’ll become aware of sounds you haven’t heard for a long time – not just voices, but background noises as well. It takes time and patience to train your brain to filter out the extraneous background noise like a clock ticking, the sound of the air conditioner or the hum of a humidifier. Everyone goes through a period of adjustment with a new hearing aid as their brain adapts to hearing again. Hearing aids amplify sounds, and you may even notice internal sounds like chewing and swallowing become more audible. Even your own voice may sound too loud.
Here’s the good news. With a little time, your brain will learn to “tune out” the distracting sounds you don’t want to hear and pay attention to the important sounds like people talking to you. Each person adjusts to the hearing amplification a hearing aid offers at a different rate, but for most people it takes two to three weeks to gradually become less aware of background sounds.
The best way to adjust to a new hearing aid is to follow your audiologist’s recommendations on how often to wear your hearing aid initially. They may recommend that you wear it for an hour several times a day and in a variety of settings. As you become more comfortable, gradually increase the amount of time you leave your hearing aid in.
In the beginning, you may need to see your audiologist to make adjustments and fine-tune your listening experience, but it will all be worth it when you can clearly hear what people are saying to you. Your hearing care professional will also show you the basics like how to put in and take out your hearing aid, how to clean it, how to change the battery, and how to adjust the volume. Be sure to make a list of questions you might have beforehand.
By partnering closely with hearing professionals, the adjustment period will go more smoothly and soon you’ll be less conscious that you’re wearing a hearing aid – you’ll be too busy taking in what’s going on around you.