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DEC

Posted on Monday, December 24, 2012

Hearing Aids: Getting Used to Sound Again

Like this picture of an electric guitar concert, sound can sometimes seem to loud with a new hearing aid.

Despite the many benefits of hearing aids they introduce a new challenge--getting used to sound again. Silence is less abrasive than sound, so the return of noise can be startling to someone with a new hearing aid. This adjustment is normal. Not realizing time and adjustment is needed when first using hearing aids can cause some people to turn off their hearing aids and subsequently the world.

Hearing loss is unique to each person, so hearing aids need to be set for individual use by an audiologist. Working with an audiologist to ensure an individual has their hearing aids set to their preferences is key to success.

What is loud to one person may not be loud enough for another. As Professor Ray Meddis—who is developing customizing software for hearing aids, 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."

When you have hearing loss, and are aware of all the amazing things that today's listening devices are capable of, there is a tendency to have Cinderella expectations. As in--the hearing aids will be like a magic wand and the return of sound will require no adjustment. Reality does have happy endings, but generally people have to work toward that success. Most people with hearing loss are aware of the extended road to hearing health, but some media can create unrealistic expectations.

A lot of Youtube videos show someone’s first experience with hearing aids or other hearing devices. Here is one of my favorites of Sarah Churman—deaf since birth after having her hearing implant put in and activated.

http://www.youtube.com/user/hawser09

This video is beautiful and packs a powerful message. What we don’t often see, and what the woman in this video—Sarah Churman has graciously shared on her blog, is what happens when the person goes home and is inundated with sound. In Sarah’s own words taken from her blog, In the World, but Not of the World…:

“Foot steps, car doors, engine starting, already tired of hearing myself swallow. Lol. I kept asking "Is this normal? Do you hear that? Does that always do that? Is there a cup rattling around in the back of the car?”

Sarah seems to have been told that she will experience this kind of sensory overload. She speaks on her blog of having a remote and being on the lowest setting. Her doctor told her if she went any louder her brain would not be able to handle it, and that she’d have to increase the sound level slowly over time. Her joy at hearing doesn’t seem to diminish with the new challenges that her listening devices present. Radek Dvorak, a member of our People Hearing Better community, had a similar experience after receiving his hearing aids. As he put it:

“Wow. That's all I could really say for several weeks afterwards. All the noises, the eses,cees, zees, tees, dees... wow, they sound different! And, boy, those kiddos, they sure talk a lot!”

There are a lot of miraculous things that listening devices do and restoring the kiddos talking is just one of them. Hearing aids have been shown to help with depression, create more positive relationships, and strengthen brain function, but people looking into upgrading or getting their first hearing aids should have realistic expectations. The benefits of hearing aids far outweighs the adjustment period, but the key to success is to remember that achieving great results requires a slow and steady progress. Not only should you work with your hearing health provider to adjust your hearing aids, but you should gradually increase your use of hearing aids. Work up to wearing them all day every day. And don't give up on the world or sound! Hearing is important for overall physical health!

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!

RESOURCES:

University of Essex, Colchester Campus. New software ‘hearing dummies’ pave the way for tailor-made hearing aids 13 June 2011 Web. Extracted on October 25, 2011 Taken from: University of Essex :: New software ‘hearing dummies’ pave the way for tailor-made hearing aids :: Colchester Campus

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