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Blog

What to Expect From Your Hearing Aids

Nick Moomaw

Most people don't know what to expect from hearing aids. Misconceptions and second-hand experience with bulky, whistling, old-fashioned analog devices continue to influence the way people think about all hearing aids. 

Hearing aids have changed dramatically from a generation ago -- from outward appearance to internal technology -- making them vastly more appealing and effective. 

This blog will hopefully help you set expectations for the performance of your new hearing aids- how they sound, feel and work. 

How Your Hearing Aids Should Sound

Getting acclimated to wearing your new hearing aids is different for each person. But once you are, you should notice a big difference in how the world sounds.

  • Your ability to hear and understand others should be improved
  • Other people's voices shouldn't sound distorted, harsh, tinny, sharp, booming or muffled
  • The sound of your own voice should be "normal", not sound like your in a barrel
  • The intensity and quality of familiar sounds should be sharp, bright and clear -- not dull or irritating
  • In a crowded room with many people talking at once, sound should be loud but not deafening
  • Wearing hearing aids in both ears should help you identify the location of a sound or voice
  • Hearing and communicating in quiet environments (home, work, doctor's office) should be improved
  • Your ability to hear and understand speech in environments with background noise (restaurants or dining parties, for instance) should be improved
  • Your hearing aids should help you understand speech in larger environments where there is reverberation (lecture halls, worship spaces, movie theaters) 
  • Loud sounds (sirens, traffic, construction sounds) should not be uncomfortable but you should hear them clearly

Five tips to get even more out of your hearing aids:

  1. If you wear directional hearing aids, sit facing the wall with the restaurant noise behind you

  2. Take them into your hearing professional for regular cleaning and maintenance

  3. Make sure to keep fresh batteries on hand

  4. Turn off hearing aids or remove battery when not in use

  5. In public places with acoustic challenges (theaters or conference halls), it is best to sit in the front and center of the room, where it offers the best acoustics

Smart steps for first-time wearers

  • Wear them at home in a quiet environment for the first few days

  • Practice having a conversation with your spouse or a loved one

  • Read out loud for 10-15 minutes a day

  • Wear them only a few hours each day for the first two weeks

  • Take breaks when you feel tired

  • Do online skills training exercises

  • Set realistic expectations: hearing aids won't restore your hearing to normal- but they will make listening easier and much more enjoyable again   

What to Expect at Your Hearing Care Appointment

Nick Moomaw

Who you see is key

Whether you consult with an audiologist, an ENT doctor or a Hearing Instrument Specialist, it's important to see someone who specializes in hearing issues. Seeing a hearing specialist will ensure you will receive a comprehensive evaluation and precise measurement of your hearing loss.

These experts have the training and equipment needed to inspect your ear canal, accurately measure your hearing loss, asses your unique needs, and prescribe solutions that take all this important and personal information into account.

 

There is nothing to it 

The most difficult step in improving your hearing is the first one: recognizing you need to find out more about your hearing loss and improving your situation. After that, it's easy. Simply schedule your initial hearing consultation. Most appointments consist of these four steps:

Hearing Analysis:

 Your ears will be visually examined and you'll be tested with the latest standard-of- care methods and technology to determine the type of hearing loss you have. Your results will be illustrated in an audiogram that the hearing professional will walk you through. an impression of your ear anatomy may also be made with putty to determine if certain styles (like invisible hearing aids) are appropriate. 

Lifestyle Discussion:

You will be asked about the types of places and listening environments you frequent to determine the range of sound settings and technological features appropriate for your lifestyle. 

Hearing Aid Options:

You will see  the different hearing aids that are designed for your level of hearing loss as well as your preferences for size, color, and invisibility. 

Budget Discussion:

Your hearing professionals will help you narrow down your choice of hearing instruments based on the investment you are comfortable making. You will also discuss insurance and/or financing options. 

 

Be Prepared!

Before you go in for your appointment, be ready with some questions to ask your hearing professional:

  1. How bad is my hearing?
  2. Is it medically treatable?
  3. Are there specific frequencies or types of sounds I have more trouble with than others?
  4. What are my treatment options?
  5. Would hearing aids help me?
  6. Can you tell me what's new in hearing aid technology?
  7. What's the difference between non-wireless and wireless hearing aids?
  8. Can I prevent further hearing loss?
  9. Is there anything I can do on my own to hear better?

Confusion & Hearing Loss

Nick Moomaw

Hearing loss impacts more than you think. Evidence suggests that older adults with hearing loss are more likely to experience the symptoms of cognitive decline. Hearing aids can improve the negative effects of hearing loss on the brain. 

Your Hearing and Your Brain

Your hearing is a partnership between your ears and your brain. When someone speaks, your brain processes the sounds so that you can understand them. That is called cognitive load. When you have untreated hearing loss, the speech signals coming in to your brain are degrade, so your brain has to work much harder to process them. When more brain power is targeted to understanding the sound around you, other brain tasks such as memory and comprehension can suffer. 

Use It or Lose It 

Audiologists recognize a significant benefit of early intervention with hearing aids. When you lose hearing ability over time, your brain can actually "forget" how to hear certain sounds. For example, the longer your brain is deprived of high-frequency sounds, the harder it will be to process those sounds even after being fitted with hearing aids.

What Can You Do?

If you suspect cognitive or emotional problems, schedule both a hearing evaluation with a trained professional and a physical exam with your doctor. 

Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss

Increased Mental Fatigue/Stress

Poorer Memory

Difficulty Focusing

Poorer Mental Health

Social Withdrawal

Depression   

Binaural Hearing

Nick Moomaw

Hearing with both ears allows for a rich, balanced and full sound experience. That's why it's important to consider wearing two hearing aids, even if your hearing loss is mainly in one ear.

Thanks to advanced technology and science, the best of today's hearing aids are now equipped to communicate with each other and work together. They are designed to replicate the natural and normal way we hear. 

The Benefits of Binaural Hearing

Better speech understanding: It's easier to be selective in what you listen to, allowing you to focus on conversations more easily. 

Bette localization: Two hearing aids allow you to more reliably detect where sounds are coming from which is helpful in social settings - or traffic.

Better sound distinction: With one hearing aid, different noises and words tend to sound the alike. Two hearing aids help make sounds more distinct.

Better hearing rage: A person wearing two hearing aids can hear up to four times the distance/range than when wearing just one. 

Better sound quality: Just as your stereo sounds smoother, sharper, and better balanced with two speakers, two hearing aids enhance the sound quality of everything you hear. 

Increased satisfaction: According to studies by Better Hearing Institute, people who wear two hearing aids report greater overall satisfaction than people fit for only one.