Hearing aids are incredibly advanced pieces of modern technology. They reconnect us to our loved ones, empower us to re-engage with the world, and restore our ability to enjoy life like never before. But even these amazing little devices require a little knowledge to make the most of them. Here are six simple steps you can take to ensure you squeeze every last ounce of benefit from your hearing aids, starting from your first fitting.
1. Give your ears time to adjust.
Though you’ll probably be hoping for your hearing aids to solve all your hearing problems immediately after putting them on for the first time, many of the most meaningful changes will arrive gradually, weeks or even months after you begin using them. In fact, it can take anywhere from three weeks to six months for you to really start getting the most out of your devices.
Why is this? Well, we may hear with our ears, but understanding happens in the brain. During the years since your hearing began to deteriorate, the structure of your brain adjusted to compensate. It’s no longer accustomed to interpreting audio signals like it used to. It’ll take time to reforge the neurological pathways that lead to robust, crystal-clear understanding, so be patient and stick with it.
2. Wear them at least eight hours every day.
Because wearing your hearing aids during those first several weeks is essentially “re-training” your brain, you want to give your auditory system as much practice as possible. That means wearing your hearing aids for a minimum of eight hours a day, in a wide range of situations.
Whether you’re at home watching television, out walking your dog, or sitting in silence reading a book, your hearing aids should be in place. It can be tempting to put them in only when you’re in a noisy environment or at a special gathering, but waiting until you need them most will likely result in auditory overload. Better to make using them a habit and ease your auditory system in gradually than to struggle with small, intense bursts of hearing aid use.
3. Make sure you have the correct style of hearing aid and level of technology.
Hearing aids are more diverse than most people realize. There are types tailored for virtually every kind of lifestyle, each with their own unique benefits and drawbacks. What’s more, there are levels of the technology that some folks may never access or features you may need that only exist in more advanced devices.
Make sure that you partner with an experienced audiology professional to determine which hearing aids are best for you. It’s essential that they mesh with your specific listening habits and hearing challenges, your level of activity, and your general day-to-day. For instance, if you often find yourself out at family gatherings, chowing down at noisy restaurants, or going to concerts, a basic hearing aid likely won’t suit your needs. Let us guide you to a device that will keep up with you wherever you need them.
4. Regularly clean your hearing aids.
Over time, even the best hearing aids can succumb to grit and grime if not properly cared for. Wax and moisture can build up, ultimately leading to hearing problems or even failure down the road.
To clean your devices at home, start by gently wiping them off with a microfiber cloth or tissue. Then, use the stiff brush that came with your hearing aids to scrub away any wax buildup on the inside and outside of the device. Do not run them under water, use soap, or apply alcohol solution, as each of these can cause serious problems with the wiring.
Or, if you’d rather we clean them for you, that’s fine too! Even if you do clean your hearing aids yourself from time to time, we suggest coming in to Centers for Hearing Care for a basic cleaning every six months. We’ll dig deep into your devices and remove all the extra wax, to ensure they operate at peak efficiency for years to come.
5. Talk to us!
Hearing treatment shouldn’t happen alone. Talk to your audiologist to review effective communication strategies for both you and your family. These techniques can do wonders in supporting the transition to hearing aids and minimize miscommunications and frustration along the way. And, of course, if you ever have any questions about your hearing aids, or if something is just not working, please reach out. We’ll do whatever we can to help every step of the way!
6. Set realistic expectations.
Hearing aids are powerful, incredible tools, but they’re not magic. Even after acclimating to your devices, you aren’t going to hear perfectly in every single situation. There will be occasional struggles and hiccups here and there, and likely you’ll need regular adjustments to your hearing aids within the first few months of use. But with the right audiology team by your side, you can move past these minor issues and toward long-term hearing success.