Your First Experience Of Hearing Aids
When first fitted with new digital hearing aids, there is a period of adjustment or rehabilitation that needs to be undertaken. This period can vary from person to person. During the initial period of wearing your devices, the sound you hear will be very different to what you have become accustomed to.
This is especially the case if the hearing aids are your first set, your hearing loss has probably been a problem for up to ten years before you sought treatment. The introduction of so much new sound can be a bit overwhelming at the outset. Your brain will be re-introduced to sounds it has not been aware of for quite a long time. It will take a little time for your brain to re-learn what those sounds are, and what to do with them.
New Sounds & Old Ones Forgotten
While wearing your hearing aids you will hear sounds that you may not have heard for several years. You will also hear sounds that you have been aware of, but they will be presented in a new and completely different manner. It will take your brain sometime to become familiar with this sound information again. It would usually takes from about six to eight weeks for the average brain to initially get used to this new method of hearing. However this is the beginning of your rehabilitation period, your appreciation of sounds which you hear will continue to increase incrementally over a six to twelve month period.
Again this varies from Patient to Patient, in certain circumstances, the initial adjustment period may take up to 6 months depending on the age of the patient, the condition of the brain and the length of time that the hearing loss has been un-treated. It would be a good rule of thumb though to allow roughly six to eight weeks to become completely comfortable with any hearing aid. One of the biggest surprises to to you will probably be how you suddenly perceive your own voice. People who suffer from long term loss of hearing often do not understand that they are in fact supposed to hear their own voice clearly when they are speaking.
Your Own Voice Will Be Different
It can seem strange to hear your own voice while speaking and can actually be somewhat disturbing in the beginning. For a first time user of hearing aids it can be either a moment of illumination or a confusing experience when they first hear their own voice clearly. You may think that you are shouting because your voice sounds louder than it normally has. You will also notice certain background and environmental noises that you were previously unaware of. All of these new sounds will seem quite odd at the beginning. The key is that you understand that this is normal and these sounds are the sounds of everyday living.
These sounds will fade in importance for you as time progresses and the natural function of your brain begins to return. Normally all sounds are presented to your brain, your brain then sorts the sounds for importance. When you first wear hearing aids everything is presented to your brain and it really doesn't understand what to do with it. Your brain has to now re-learn how to identify the sound, choose to ignore or listen to it and focus on picking out the speech from the background noise. Your brain will re-learn this skill, but it will take a little time for it to sort it's function out. That is the very nature of rehabilitation, hearing aids are not like glasses, the functions involved are more complex.
Everyone Needs To Make Adjustments
Your journey to better hearing is not one that you can take alone. Everyone needs to make adjustments including your family and acquaintances. Firstly, they will have to remember that they no longer need to speak as loudly to communicate with you. They should also try to learn communication techniques that they can use to help you get the best from your hearing aids.
Those closest to someone with a new hearing aid need to remember to employ patience as everyone becomes acclimatized to the situation. They should also help to support the Patient, attending appointments so that together with the hearing aid user they can monitor progress and help enforce any information given or communication techniques taught.
It's Important To Treat Your Loss Early
There are a few things that will have an impact on the outcome of amplification beyond the hearing instrument equipment. They include the severity of your hearing loss, the length of time you have gone without full sound, your attitude, and your ability to interpret what you hear. All of these elements will have an impact on how well you adapt to the hearing aids and how successful your treatment will be.
It is becoming very clear that the length of time without full auditory stimulation has a dramatic effect on both outcomes of amplification and the general health and well being of a Patient. Studies into untreated hearing loss and associated problems have made it clear that there is a link between it and conditions such as depression, dementia and other neurological problems. This is why it is important to treat any hearing loss as quickly as possible for the best outcomes.
Hearing Aids Are Not Normal Hearing
It may seem strange for us to say that, hearing aids will make a dramatic difference, but it is not a replacement for normal hearing lost. The most important point to remember is getting a hearing aid will not make everything perfect. Nor will it solve all your problems in every single sound situation, but it definitely will improve your ability to communicate with other people by being able to improve your ability to hear them. It will also definitely assist with stimulation of your auditory centers and reduce the cognitive load caused by the concentration levels needed to hear and understand with untreated hearing loss.