If you’ve got used to living with hearing loss, wearing hearing aids and hearing the sounds you’ve been missing can be overwhelming. But don’t let this put you off. You’ll need a bit of time to adjust to your new hearing aids – getting used to the feeling of having the device in your ear as well as the actual sensation of hearing. But once you’ve adjusted to your new hearing aids, you won’t want to be without them.
Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, your surroundings might sound muffled, or there might be certain sounds you’re missing. With a hearing aid, things will change abruptly. At first, everyday noises may sound surprisingly loud. Your own voice might sound strange, and even familiar noises might seem different.
Wearing a new hearing aid takes a bit of getting used to. Your ears need to get used to the sensation of wearing a hearing aid, and your brain suddenly has to start perceiving and processing many different sounds again. It might be a little while since you last heard the full range of sounds. Many of the background noises that people without hearing loss have learned to ignore will sound new to you, so to begin with, you’ll find them more tricky to shut out.
While you’re familiarising yourself with the new sounds around you, your brain will be relearning how to suppress background noise and focus on important sounds. But don’t worry – after a little while, you won’t even notice that you’re wearing a hearing aid.
Give yourself time
Normally, you suppress unimportant background sounds, like the rustling of leaves or the tapping of keyboards in the office. But when you can’t hear these sounds, your brain forgets how to handle them. The sound-processing centres in your brain need to learn not only that everything sounds different with a hearing aid, but also that they need to filter out certain sounds again. This can take a little time.
To help your brain get used to normal ambient noise levels again, and to relearn how to ignore background noise, you should wear your hearing aids regularly. It’s important to not give up too soon. You might find it helpful to write down your experiences and problems in a hearing diary. This will help you track your progress and don’t forget that you can always contact our 20dB Digisound professional for advice.
Familiarise yourself with how to handle your hearing aid
One important step in getting used to wearing your new hearing aids is to familiarise yourself with them. Our hearing care professionals will explain how to insert and remove your hearing aids – make sure you practise this regularly. Learn how to look after your hearing aids properly, and how to maintain and clean them. Try out the different settings and listen to the differences.
Use your hearing aid at home
To begin with, use your hearing aids in a quiet setting. This will make it easier to pick out and understand individual sounds, without being distracted by noise from the street or conversations around you. It’s also a good idea to try to make your everyday environments as calm as possible.
You don’t need to wear your hearing aids all day to begin with. If the sounds become a bit too overwhelming, just take your hearing aids out and have a break. You can start by wearing them for a few hours each day, then increase the length of time gradually until you’re happy wearing them morning till evening.
Even a simple thing like an outdoor stroll can help you get used to your new hearing aids. In the open, you can concentrate on quiet outdoor sounds like the rustling of leaves, birds singing, or the splash of water in a stream, without distraction.
Gradually introduce the sound of TV and radio
When you have a quiet minute, try watching TV and listening to the radio with your hearing aids in. A good place to start is with the news. This is because newsreaders are trained to articulate clearly and there is very little background noise like music or sound effects that you might find on other shows.
Then, you could try phoning a loved one. Start with the volume turned down and adjust it during the call if you need to. Did you know that there are extra accessories available to help you get the best sound from your phone or TV, you can visit our shop to find out more.
Take the conversation challenge
It’s best if the first conversations you have wearing your hearing aids take place when you’re in a relaxed environment. We recommend that you talk to just one or two people, ideally somewhere with no background noise like the sound of a TV or household appliances. Why not explain to the people you’re talking to how hearing loss can affect communication, and how they can help you in conversations?
Try our useful tips for conversations where there’s more background noise:
When you’re feeling more comfortable with your hearing aids, try wearing them in places with more background noise, like a busy street or restaurant.
It’s often your loved ones who encourage you to take the first step to hearing better, so they’ll be very happy to see you getting the help you need. Having your friends and family around you for support as you get used to hearing better is really valuable.
What to remember
Patience is really important – both for you, and your friends and family. Be patient with yourself, and remember that getting used to wearing your hearing aid doesn’t happen overnight. But your loved ones will be proud of you for getting help with your hearing, and you should be proud of yourself too – you’ve already come a long way!
Being honest and open with the people you’re talking to is really important. Smiling and nodding when you actually can’t understand someone might end up making you both feel frustrated. If you can’t hear or you can’t understand, dont be afraid to say so!
Don’t feel embarrassed to ask people to speak more clearly, to paraphrase what they said or to ask them to look at you while they speak. These simple rules can be easy for people without hearing loss to forget. Plus, being honest about your own hearing might encourage other people to get help too.
Just like any part of your body, there are exercises you can do to train your ears and help you get used to your hearing aids more quickly. Here are some different ones you can try...
1. Locating sounds
It’s important to get used to picking up which direction sounds are coming from. One way to practise this is by standing somewhere busy, like in a shopping district such as Orchard Road, and picking out certain sounds. Try listening to a conversation nearby, the sound of high heels on the pavement, or a dog barking in a park. Try to identify these different sounds and work out the direction they’re coming from.
2. Sounds and emotions
Different sounds are often strongly connected to an emotion. Try taking a few minutes to sit on a park bench or a balcony, and close your eyes. Focus on the individual sounds you can hear and try to think about the emotions they trigger. This will help your brain to suppress unpleasant sounds more quickly and easily.
3. Targeted Hearing
Most people – even people without a hearing loss – feel overwhelmed by loud noise in crowded spaces. But you can make it easier for yourself by training your targeted hearing. Find a place where there are high levels of background noise, like a coffee shop, hawker centre, or at an MRT station, and focus exclusively on one source of sound. This will help your selective hearing to improve, and make situations like this feel less overwhelming.
4. Double Information
Ask two friends or family members to help. Get them to sit either side of you and ask them to both start talking to you at once. Try to follow what they’re both saying. It’s not easy! But this will help you to listen in both directions, as well as helping improve your understanding of speech which can be really useful in noisy situations.
5. Understanding without words
When we listen to someone talking, we’re unconsciously paying attention to their gestures and facial expressions at the same time. This helps us to interpret what’s they’re saying in context. You can hone this skill by muting the TV while you’re watching the news, and trying to figure out what the newsreader is talking about by looking at their facial movements and gestures..
If you’re still finding it tricky to get used to new sounds, don’t give up! We’re here to help. Speak with our hearing care professionals and they can give you advice or adjust your hearing aids to make things easier.