For many people, buying a new hearing aid is not as simple as "stick it in your ear and away you go". As much as we'd like it to be so, buying a new hearing aid and getting the full benefit from it is often not as quick and easy as buying a TV and sitting down on the sofa to watch it.
Hearing aid technology has progressed rapidly in recent years, not only are the hearing aids themeselves amazing, but the programming software that professionals use to fine-tune them to our own personal requirements has also got quicker and easier to use - meaning that the aids can be accurately setup for your hearing loss in no time at all.
But how long does it take our brains to get used to new sounds and adjust so that we can understand them? This video from Sonova shows some research on it:
Thats potentially three months between getting the hearing aid for the first time and your brain adjusting and allowing you to get full comprehension of the new sounds you are hearing, particularly speech.
I think this is where a lot of people get frustrated with their hearing aids, they want them to "just work", and that's a perfectly valid thing to expect, problem is that the hearing aids themselves are working great, its just us that need the time to fully appreciate them in all their wonder.
It will take different people different amounts of time to adjust, a seasoned hearing aid wearer like myself will adjust quickly but someone wearing them for the first time will take much longer, especially if that person has been waiting a long time to get hearing aids and their brain has had years of adjusting to receiving damaged sounds. To take into account this learning curve for new user, a audiologist will often set the volume to lower than required, so that your brain is not blasted with a onslaught of unexpected sounds.
The time it takes your brain to handle and comprehend the new sounds and the repeat visits to your hearing aid provider for volume increases and re-programming will determine how long it is before you get the full benefit from a new hearing aid.
Which leads to a question: you usually get a one-month trial period on a new hearing aid to determine if you want to keep them or not, what if it is taking you twelve weeks to adjust to the sound? My suggestions:
- Don't get frustrated if the hearing aid isn't perfect in the first weeks of wearing it. Stick with it, wear it as much as possible and give your brain time to adjust to it.
- If you have an App with your new aid, use it to try adjusting the sound and see what works for you. No-one knows your hearing like you do, if you experiment with the App you give your hearing aid provider priceless feedback on what setup works for you.
- Visit your provider as often as possible to get tweaks to programming and volume.
- Challenge yourself, listen to people you know, get them to whisper or talk facing away from you and see if you can hear them, train that brain.
Good luck with the new hearing aid.