How Long Does It Take to Adjust to a Hearing Aid?
It can take between a few days and a few months to adjust to your hearing aids, and many factors affect this time frame, such as how you adapt to the way sounds are amplified and to the presence of a new object in your ears. This can be challenging for some people. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports only one in three people over the age of 70 and around 16% of those aged between 20 and 69 that need hearing aids actually use them. There are ways to adapt to hearing aids, however, so that you can benefit from these life-changing devices.
New Sounds and Hearing Aids
One of the more disconcerting aspects of a new hearing aid is the way everything is suddenly amplified, particularly when you’re used to things sounding a certain way. Sound reproduction has reached the stage where hearing aids produce extremely lifelike sounds, however, without the tinniness of the hearing aids of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
This takes some getting used to, especially if you have never worn hearing aids before. Essentially, it’s a form of auditory hypersensitivity — because everything is suddenly louder, your brain starts to experience distress and anxiety.
There are several ways to mitigate this. One is to slowly ramp up the volume level over the course of several months. For hearing aids without user-adjustable volume levels, this requires several visits to your audiologist. However, having set sound levels can be beneficial in the long run – there’s no temptation to dial back the volume level, and you can be sure that you’re hearing things at a suitable volume. In addition, regular appointments can ensure you actually do increase the volume.
The other is to wear your hearing aids intermittently and increase the time you use them. The danger here is that you may be tempted to leave them out completely, or you might not have them when you bump into a family member or an old friend. In addition, it can be easy to lose hearing aids, especially when they’re combined with masks — the string sometimes gets caught around or behind them while they’re in your pocket and flip out.
Discomfort In the Ear
Of course, if you have never had anything in your ears before, the presence of a device can be uncomfortable, especially if you wear glasses.
There are some ways to reduce discomfort. You may choose to have an extremely compact in-the-ear hearing aid or even a CIC hearing aid, which means you only have one point of contact — completely in your ear. However, if your hearing loss has progressed to a medium or severe stage, a behind-the-ear hearing aid may be your best hearing aid option at a reasonable price point. At that stage, you would have to get used to having something on top of your ear as well as being in your ear.
Where possible, choose a hearing aid where the amplifier is in your ear, which negates the need for a complete ear mold. This makes it much more comfortable in the long term. In addition, sweat doesn’t build up in the ear, reducing irritation.
Again, you can choose to wear your hearing aid for ever-increasing amounts of time to get used to it, but this does increase the risk of loss. Ultimately, to find the most comfortable hearing aid, work with your audiologist to find the most suitable one for you.