How do you know if your hearing aids are right for you?
If you have not worn hearing aids before, you need to know how to wear them. The first step is to acknowledge and accept your hearing loss. If you are still in the denial stage or are still grieving about your hearing loss, you may not have the patience necessary to give your new hearing aids a fair go.
Secondly, you have to understand that hearing aids are only aids and do not give you back your natural hearing. However they should improve your hearing by about half. You may need to consider your attitude. If you get new hearing aids and return them after the trial period saying you still miss some things that are said, have you stopped to consider all the extra things that you DO now hear with your new hearing aids? You may miss 10% but you are still hearing 90%.
With hearing loss we miss certain frequencies and sounds from our lives for a long time (usually up to 10 years before we acknowledge we need to tackle the problem) and our brain has shut down in this area. It is not used, therefore it is not stimulated. Like a lazy muscle, it will need exercising to get it into shape again. So when we start wearing our new hearing aids, frequencies we have not heard for a long time are once again transmitted to our auditory cortex. Out auditory cortex may find it hard work at first sounds may sound tinny and sharp and we may find we are still automatically shutting out situations where previously we could not hear.
Remember: both our auditory cortex and our auditory attention are working for the first time in years.
Combined with this is the onslaught of noises we had forgotten were so loud: traffic, kettles, raised voices, flushing toilets, cutlery, kitchens. Some people suffering from sensorial hearing loss have a perception that the volume of sounds increase faster than they really do, so if they ask someone to raise their voice they perceive that person is then shouting at them. Some sounds seem painfully loud. An audiologist sets a new hearing aid user’s hearing aids at a half of what the final prescription will be, gradually turning them up at subsequent visits as your brain rewires itself. What seemed awfully loud at the beginning will become normalised after a few weeks with regular wearing. If we do not wear our aids regularly, if we give up too soon, this process of normalisation will not have the chance to occur.
The greater our hearing loss, the more you perceive sounds as too loud and the less your hearing aids can aid clarity of speech. Speech contains many of the higher frequencies. Hearing aids cannot fix fuzzy, distorted speech, but they can make it better. If your hearing loss is severe to profound, there are a lot of assistive listening devices such as FM Personal Amplifiers and telecoils that are invaluable in achieving a better quality of hearing. They use a microphone for the speaker and result in a beautiful clear sound right in your ears from the speaker’s mouth.
Hearing aids work best in quiet situations in close proximity to the sound source. Many people buy hearing aids so they can socialise or work in noisy environments only to find they can actually hear better in these situations without their new hearing aids! This is because once we acquire a hearing loss our ears can no longer filter out background noise from foreground speech and the way this noise makes its way into our brain lands up as a jumbled foreground noise. If you need to hear in noisy situations the top of the range hearing aids do help reduce background noise and head-hunt the
speaker you are trying to focus on. Expect to pay more for these aids and once again, they only help, they do not perform miracles.