Getting Used to Your Hearing Aids

How do I adapt to new hearing aids?

When you first start wearing hearing aids, you may experience a range of new emotions and observations. 

6 tips for adjusting to hearing aids

Adjusting to hearing aids can seem intimidating, but it can be easy with our 6 easy tips. 

  1. Wear your hearing aids every day 
  2. Initially wear your hearing aids in quiet environments, like at home
  3. Set realistic expectations, remember - everyone needs time to adjust
  4. Keep your aftercare appointments
  5. Attend hearing aid care classes
  6. Stay positive

Are there hearing aid side effects?

Because people typically wait 7-10 years to treat hearing loss, there are many new sounds to get used to while adjusting to new hearing aids. While hearing (or rediscovering) the previously missed sounds will be exciting, it’s also normal to have concerns.

  • Tinnitus and headaches: it is not uncommon to have tinnitus and headaches when you first get hearing aids, but they should go away after the first couple of days.

  • Irritation and Itchiness: you may also have some irritation in your ear when you first get hearing aids, but this should go away with time as you get acclimated to wearing them.

  • Sound problems: things may sound a little different than you're used to as your brain adjusts to hearing sounds again. Sounds may also seem a bit loud to you at first. 

If you're still having sound problems after you've had your hearing aids for a while, your hearing care provider can help make adjustments to your hearing aids to ensure the sound quality matches your needs. 

How to adapt to a hearing aid?

Once you’ve worn your hearing aids for several days, weeks, or months (the adjustment period varies from person to person), you’ll likely feel comfortable and more acclimated to all of the sounds. But for now, let’s address a few worries you might have and what you can do about them.

1. I can hear background noise.

Since you’re probably not used to hearing subtle background noise, it might take some time to reacquaint yourself with these types of sounds. For example, traffic outside your home, background conversations while talking with a friend, or even the sound of the air conditioning unit running can seem unusual or make hearing aids uncomfortable at first.

The good news: this feeling is completely normal and won’t last forever. Think of adjusting to hearing aids the same way you might think of coming out of a dark room and stepping into sunlight. You’ll probably want to close your eyes or feel the need to squint at first, but soon enough, you’ll feel comfortable again. If you wear hearing aids consistently, you’ll gradually learn to pay attention to the most prominent sounds and naturally ignore the less important ones in your environment.

Hearing devices use special technology called Speech Isolation, which automatically focuses on the target sounds you’ll want to hear to make this adjustment even easier. Three features work in tandem to make this possible. Noise reduction limits background noise, directionality picks up sound coming from the speaker's direction, and amplification increases the volume of the speaker rather than surrounding noise. 

2. Some sounds are too loud.

While it’s no surprise hearing aids will amplify certain sounds, it’s important to make sure they’re at a comfortable volume level. Hearing aids are programmed to fit your individual pattern of loss to make sounds just right for your ears. Hearing a noise at a louder volume than before might feel unfamiliar or overwhelming at first and maybe even uncomfortable. However, you’ll have a good idea of what’s right for your ears and what sound level feels pleasant.

If certain sounds seem painfully loud, don’t hesitate to let your hearing care provider know. They will be able to make a hearing aid adjustment to correct this issue. Keep in mind; it’s common to need slight tweaks before finding the perfect balance between just right and slightly too loud. The priority is always to make sure you hear in a way that’s ideal to compensate for your specific loss.

3. Why does my hearing aid crackle?

When hearing aids are turned up to their highest volume setting, the sound of the microphone picking up noise might be louder than usual. Hearing aid squealing can be minimized by simply turning down the volume unless there’s a specific reason it needed to be amplified.

Wearing a hat or hugging someone may also cause your hearing aids to whistle or beep momentarily. This sensation—known as hearing aid feedback—can also occur if your glasses rub on hearing aids. This happens because sounds that originate very close to the hearing aids will be picked up louder than those received from farther away. While there’s not much you can do to control this occasional sound; it’s helpful to be aware of the different situations that can cause it to occur. 

4. My voice sounds different than before

You may notice your voice sounds a little different than it does without hearing aids. This is to be expected since your voice is one of the sounds being amplified by your new device. If your hearing aid model takes up a significant portion of the ear canal, the sound of your voice will be altered the same way it would be if you plugged your ears. This is called the “occlusion effect.” Though this can feel odd initially, getting used to hearing aids doesn’t have to take a long time; it often happens relatively quickly.

Voice Recognition Technology also helps with this by processing your voice differently than other voices and sounds around you. The technology is used to detect the distance between your ears and mouth. The hearing aid then recognizes that the source of your own voice is closer to the device while other sounds are further away, achieving a natural listening experience.

If you need additional help getting used to the sound of your voice, try speaking or reading aloud to yourself in a quiet space. The more you can hear yourself talk while wearing your devices, the easier the adjustment will be. Ask your hearing care provider for additional hearing aid tips if the issue persists.

5. What if my battery runs out?

Hearing aid battery life can be unpredictable depending on factors like the type of device you have, how you use it, and the battery type. Because it’s hard to know exactly when your battery might need to be replaced—the lifespan can range from several days to two weeks—it’s best to carry backup batteries with you. Batteries are small and can easily fit into your pocket or wallet. While you’re adjusting to hearing aids, get in the habit of bringing batteries wherever you go—just like you probably do with your keys and cell phone.

Replacing batteries can be done discreetly and only takes a few seconds. If your battery dies while you’re in the middle of a conversation, let the other person know you’ll need a moment to switch it out. Having an extra battery or two on hand means you’ll always be prepared and won’t miss out on important information.

The easiest and most convenient way to avoid this, though, is to use rechargeable hearing aids. Many models offer chargers that you can take on the go with you if you’re running low on power while you’re out and about.

6. What if I forget my hearing aids?

Once you start wearing your hearing aids, the difference in sound will likely be significant and noticeable. Simply recognizing the volume change can help you remember to take it off or put it on each day while getting used to hearing aids. For example, if you forget to put on your hearing aid when you start your day, you might notice that the sound of the coffee maker, toaster, blender, or other sounds are softer than usual. This will signal that you aren’t wearing your hearing aid, reminding you to put it on.

Setting up a routine can also help you get in the habit of putting your hearing aid on in the morning and taking it off at night. Leave the case or storage unit somewhere where you will see it, whether it’s next to your toothbrush (in a dry location), on your dresser, or your kitchen counter. Set a reminder alarm to make sure you wear your device consistently and remove it before going to bed.

7. Am I speaking at a okay volume level?

Individuals with hearing loss sometimes tend to speak more loudly than others to hear themselves better—some people might even do this without realizing it. So if you notice your voice seems louder with hearing aids, remember your device is simply amplifying the way it sounds to you.

As you spend more time wearing hearing aids, understanding the appropriate volume level to speak at will become more natural. You’ll also get a sense of how to adjust hearing aid volume to match your own voice and surroundings. Over time, you will start to feel more comfortable with this new volume and trust your instincts.

8. Do hearing aids make tinnitus worse?

Tinnitus is often a symptom of hearing loss. While there isn’t a cure, wearing hearing aids can actually provide relief from the buzzing sensation—some hearing aids designed to alleviate symptoms. 

Likewise, hearing aids can only help in treating loss and will not make it worse. Although they cannot restore hearing health, they create a fuller range of sound and a better listening experience. One of the major benefits of wearing hearing aids is improved speech comprehension. As they come through the ear, hearing aids allow those with loss to understand what people say more easily by magnifying sound vibrations. Plus, hearing aids provide the stimulation nerves in your ear and brain need, helping to preserve your speech discrimination ability. Treating loss with hearing aids sooner rather than later will help you continue to understand conversations. 

Problems with my hearing aids

Most common hearing aid issues can be solved by checking the settings or cleaning out wax or debris. Follow these steps if you’re experiencing the problems listed above.

  • Make sure your hearing aid is turned on. This may seem obvious, but hey, it happens to all of us!
  • Remove your hearing aid and re-insert it. It may not have been placed in your ear properly.
  • If your hearing aid has a manual volume control, make sure it isn’t turned all the way off.
  • Make sure the battery is placed in your hearing aid properly.
  • Try replacing your hearing aid battery, or, if you have a rechargeable battery, charging it.
  • Make sure there’s no ear wax or other debris in the earpiece and clean if necessary.
  • Toggle between the programs or change settings to see if this makes a difference. You may have accidentally switched to a different one.
  • It’s possible that you accidentally turned on the loop or t-coil setting. If you have, turn this back to the normal microphone setting.
  • If these steps don’t work, it may be time to see your hearing care provider.
An elderly couple talking to an Amplifon hearing professional

When to see your hearing care provider

If you're still having trouble hearing or adjusting to your hearing aids, it may be time to see a hearing care provider. Your provider can help adjust settings to make your hearing aids better meet your needs. They can also clean your hearing aids if that is the issue.

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