Over the past 40 years hearing aids have changed dramatically. Hearing aids used to be big, bulky and loud. Now hearing aids can be sleek, colorful or even invisible if desired. Hearing aids actually sound great and some offer health benefits. The way in which Audiologists fit hearing aids has also changed. Back in the 70’s, all that we needed was a screwdriver to make changes in sound quality. Now we take measurements in the ear canal to individualize performance.
Previously, we would write wearing schedules to include the number of hours devices should be worn each day. We’d instruct patients to wait at least a week before wearing their hearing aids in a noisy environment. I remember telling patients to get one foot out the door before flushing the toilet. Most left the office with only one device. Wearing two hearing aids was rarely accepted as few could tolerate the sound of their own voice or eat crunchy foods at mealtime. Loud sounds were always too loud. On rare occasions patients would return for a follow-up visit to say that they put the hearing aids in and just wore them.
Wearing hearing aids from the moment they are fit is now possible. Equipment has become more sophisticated. We can even take a 3D scan of your ear to better understand individual physical differences. Hearing soft speech, comfort and making sure that nothing gets uncomfortably loud is the goal.
What you can expect with new hearing aids is awareness that there is something in your ear. That feeling should lessen and eventually absolve itself. We realize that some of us are more sensitive than others and for some it takes a bit longer to get used to that feeling. Eventually you won’t realize that you are wearing your hearing aids which is great unless you decide to take a shower and forget to remove them. Even with that scenario, most new products are highly water resistant. Soon it will be like wearing a piece of jewelry. Like a ring on your finger, you probably won’t feel the hearing aids unless you think about them.
Traditional hearing aids, the kind that get removed and inserted, have a learning curve. You must remember to always wear them and learn the best way to put them on. The hearing aids will need to be turned off and stored in the same safe place when you are not wearing them.
You will hear sounds that you forgot existed. Patients remark that hearing the refrigerator running or turning the pages of the newspaper is disturbing. You are actually retraining and stimulating parts of your brain that have been untouched for a long while. Some sounds that appear in the forefront will eventually retreat to the background and you will stop paying attention to them. You might also be surprised at how much quieter or different it sounds when you remove your hearing aids.
If you find yourself taking your hearing aids off during the day because of the way they feel or the way you are hearing, don’t wait until your next appointment. We encourage you to pickup the phone and schedule time to resolve any issues that you are experiencing. We’re here, right along with you every step of the way.