Congratulations on taking the first step to better hearing! People who put on glasses for the first time often say, “Wow! I didn’t know how much I couldn’t see!”
On the other hand, people who put on hearing aids for the first time sometimes say, “These things don’t help me hear any better!”
The truth is, hearing aids require an adjustment period where your brain must relearn how to interpret sound into speech. The longer you have been ignoring your hearing loss, the harder it is for the brain to adjust to hearing speech sounds clearly. It takes most people up to two months to begin appreciating what their hearing aids can offer them. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to make the adjustment period easier.
Hearing aids are sophisticated pieces of technology that are designed to help you hear better, feel better and make the most of your life. However, they also require regular maintenance in order to keep them working well.
Perform regular listening checks.
Be sure to listen to your hearing aid every day to make sure the sound is clear and not weak or scratchy.
Check the batteries.
Your hearing aid batteries should last between one and two weeks if you are using your hearing aids on a daily basis. Full strength batteries will ensure your hearing aids are working the way they should. Be sure to keep spare batteries on hand and take them with you when you travel.
Clean your hearing aids regularly.
Be sure to check your hearing aids for dirt and wax build up. Dr. Recher will teach you the proper way to clean your hearing aids. Generally, this is done by using forced air (NOT a hair dryer) to remove any excess dirt or removing the ear molds and washing them with a mild soap solution. Do NOT submerge your hearing aids in water, expose them to excessive heat, or attempt to clean them in any way other than what Dr. Recher has prescribed.
Water is the enemy of anything electronic.
Moisture will not only cause the hearing aid to malfunction, it can cause the batteries inside to leak toxic chemicals. If you find that your hearing aid has excess moisture on it, remove them and use a hearing aid dryer to ensure they are moisture free before placing them in their storage containers.
Do you know the whistling sound people often associate with hearing aids? It is called feedback. This happens when sound comes out of the ear mold and re-enters the microphone. A securely fitted hearing aid should not emit any feedback noise. If it does, try repositioning the ear mold in your ear. If the feedback persists, call Dr. Recher to have him examine the hearing aid and diagnose the cause.
Whether you have a hearing loss or not, there are three important exercises that everyone should do at home to finely attune their hearing ability.
This is especially difficult to do for people with a hearing loss, but it is an important skill for everyone to practice. To do this, intentionally turn on background noise before having a conversation with another person. Focus on understanding what is being said rather than on what is happening in the background.
Why it works: The brain has an amazing ability to focus on a particular stimulus in the face of several stimuli. But like any skill, we tend to lose this ability if it is not practiced. Forcing your brain to pay attention to one thing in spite of other stimuli creates neural pathways that reinforce the way your brain interprets sounds into speech. If you have a hearing loss, this will come in handy once you receive your new hearing aids and have to adjust to filtering out sound once again.
We are surrounded by sound all day, every day. But how often do we take the time to locate and identify the source? The next time you hear a sound, take a moment to look around and locate its source. Was it where you thought it was? What the source what you thought?
Why it works: Even people with a bilateral hearing loss don’t have the same hearing loss in both ears. Just like the way you see out of both eyes will affect your depth perception, the way you hear out of both ears will affect your ability to identify where sound is coming from. This information is especially helpful when it comes time to visit the audiologist and discuss your hearing loss.
Why it works: As you age, your brain changes, as does its ability to interpret information. While the adult brain is adept at performing complex tasks and understanding relationships, it does not retain the plasticity it once had that allowed it to learn quickly and adapt. Continuing to learn and exercise your mind will help you maintain that ability to learn and adapt.