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Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012

The Hearing Aid Sound Factor

Man and wife listen to phone, slowly adjusting to the sound factor of each hearing aid.

Despite the many hearing aid benefits, adjusting to these technological wonders presents an unusual problem—sound. Silence is less noticeable than noise, so the return of regular sounds can seem overwhelming. The beep on a microwave or the ringing of a phone can startle someone with a new hearing aid. This adjustment period is normal.

Hearing loss requires the brain to retrain itself and the person with hearing loss to readjust. When a person develops hearing loss parts of the brain turn off. The return of sound can reactivate these parts, but it takes time. Unrealistic hearing aid expectations can cause some people to turn off their hearing aid before they’ve had a chance to properly adjust.

As Dr. Peggy Sheets points out on her Hearing Well Blog, “When trying a hearing aid for the first time, one of the biggest challenges a person faces has to do with learning to hear and process all of the sounds that haven't been perceived for so long. Noises like the refrigerator motor, or the sound a nylon windbreaker makes, as our arms move back and forth, which aren't processed because of the hearing loss. We lose the ability to recognize and identify speech sounds and it takes time to re-train the brain. The longer you go without treating your hearing loss, the more time and patience it takes to go through the adaptation process of treatment.”

You shouldn’t expect to be able to wear your hearing aid non-stop the moment you get them. Be patient with this adjustment period. Don’t give up on your hearing aid. Start by wearing them for a certain portion of every day. At first, avoid wearing them when you know they are going to need the most adjusting or in social settings where a lot of different sounds could seem overwhelming. Set a goal for how long you will wear your hearing aid every day. Increase that time every few days. If you do this consistently, one day you'll work up to wearing your hearing aid all day and never once have thought about taking them off!

What is loud to one person may not be loud enough for another. As Professor Ray Meddis—who is developing customizing software for every hearing aid, pointed out on Gizmag, “Our work has shown that, when it comes to hearing impairment, no two people are alike. That's why two people with apparently similar hearing thresholds often react very differently to their hearing aids." Working with an audiologist is key to getting your hearing aid set to your preferences and that they are comfortable for you.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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