Because you haven’t heard normal sounds and noises for a long time, wearing hearing aids will be like moving into a new house and hearing the doorbell for the first time. At first, the sounds amplified by your hearing aids will sound tinny, metallic, artificial and unnatural. This is because you are hearing the high frequency speech sounds, you have been missing, or have heard differently for years. This unnatural sound quality will improve your speech comprehension, but only if you stick with your new hearing aids until your brain has a chance to adjust. With practice and time, your brain will adjust. Hearing and understanding involve more than the hearing aid. Your hearing is a complex function which requires the cooperation of your brain and your other senses.
Understanding occurs in your brain, not in your ears. Re-acclimating your brain to true sound is a little like priming a pump; you’ve got to stay with it long enough for the water to flow. Once it is flowing, and it will flow, the hard part is over.
- From early childhood the sounds of words and noises are conveyed to the brain to gather visual images of things. This information is stored in memory compartments which are your “sound vocabulary.”
- When you lose part of your hearing, the corresponding part of your brain - which now has no input from your ear - volunteers that part of the brain for another assignment.
- After a time of not hearing, the brain will need time to become familiarized with the high frequency sounds of speech and environmental sounds.
- When you begin using hearing aids, your brain will make little use of the new sound information for five to six weeks, then gradually it will start to use it. This is the hardest time for a person who begins using hearing aids.
- The ability to make instant association depends on repeatedly hearing a word. If you do not hear a word for a long period of time, difficulty connecting the sound to its meaning occurs.
“Auditory Confusion” is caused by the flood of authentic sounds, noises and voices which suddenly break into your consciousness after not being heard for years. These are sounds which will again become a part of your subconscious once your brain hears them on a daily basis through hearing aids. For example:
- The true pitch of your telephone ring.
- The sound of your clothes rustling as you walk.
- The whoosh of your air conditioning vent or “hum” of your refrigerator motor.
- The crackling and popping of the pages of the newspaper.
- The whir of your computer.
Set Realistic Expectations
- If your hearing was lost suddenly, or, has been lost over time, you will not hear again like you once did with normal hearing. This is true regardless of the type of hearing loss you have or the type of hearing aids you own. Hearing aids are only a substitute for the original - with them you live a near-normal life; without them you will certainly be handicapped.
- Focus on your improvement, not on those negative times when your hearing aids don’t let you hear what you want to hear. Your hearing aids’ job is to help you hear better, not perfectly.
- The “tinny” or mechanical sounds you hear are normal. These are the soft, high frequency sounds you have been missing. Your hearing aids are giving these sounds back to you. This may be bothersome at first, but better understanding comes from letting you hear them. Be patient while your brain gets reacquainted with these sounds.
- At first, your voice may sound strange to you. Some wearers say that in the beginning they sound like they are in a bucket or a barrel. In time, it will sound natural.
- Background noise is normal. Normal-hearing people hear it too. Don’t give up on hearing aids because noise bothers you. Better hearing will require you to put up with a few inconveniences.
- Buying hearing aids won’t give instant gratification. There is a learning curve which usually takes from six weeks to six months. Success comes from practice and a commitment to wear them all your waking hours. Stick with it. You will succeed. Part-time users fail to receive the full benefit of hearing aids.
PRACTICE TIME AND PATIENCE: YOUR KEYS TO SUCCESS
There is a common discipline followed by all men and women who successfully make the transition to hearing aids. It is called practice. It is an investment that requires time and patience. It is an investment that usually begins to pay dividends within 45 days. Once you have logged the sufficient number of hours for your brain to re-acclimate to ambient sounds, you will be able to go on with your life without thinking so much about your hearing.
We encourage new users to wear your hearing aids all day, every day. This includes times when it is quiet, times when it is noisy and times when you may think you don’t need to be wearing them. You should put your hearing aids on first thing when you wake up and take them out at bedtime. It is a mistake to only wear them when you go out to social functions because your brain will be flooded and startled by unfamiliar ambient sounds.
Unless your hearing aids become part of your habit through daily use, your brain will not be stimulated long enough to learn to interpret the true sounds of your world; in this case hearing aids will always make your environment sound funny. Frequent and consistent use is necessary for your brain to adjust and for you to achieve successful communications again.
Be patient and don’t give up. Take a break temporarily if you become tired, but don’t quit. Keep working - it will become easy. Call us whenever you need help or encouragement.