What to know & what to expect
Hearing aids are not natural hearing. They do not restore your hearing as it was before you lost some of your hearing.
However, a good hearing aid properly fitted to your ear, your type of hearing loss and your lifestyle, can make a significant difference in your life.
At Acadia Hearing Center, we listen to you. We learn about the types of things you do each day, the things you want to do but may have difficulty with, and the things your hearing assessment tells us. Then, and only then, can we determine what will best fit you. A hearing aid is a custom instrument both in size/shape and in features to fit YOUR life perfectly.
Good listening skills
We’ll repeat: YOU are still the most important part of the hearing rehabilitative process. Here are some suggestions to help improve your hearing with or without a hearing aid:
- Get as close as possible to what you need to hear
- Get as far away as is practical from interfering background noises
- Set yourself up to be facing what you need to hear and with your back to what you don’t need to hear.
- Remember that realistically, even a good hearing aid is most effective only up to 15-18 feet away.
- For listening at greater distances on a consistent basis, consider an FM system or other assistive device
- If you only use one hearing aid (one ear), background noises are much harder to deal with. Generally, one aid will help you hear best in single-speaker situations. For more complicated listening situations, you may need two balanced ears (two hearing aids).
Your hearing aid is supposed to make you hear. This means you will probably hear everything in the hearing aid’s proximity. This is normal.
Everyone hears noise. What is not normal is “listening” to the noises. You will soon stop attending to every little sound but they will be there to keep you connected to the world around you, just like everyone else.
You have something new and different in your ear(s). This sensation will subside the more you wear the aid(s).
Discomfort or pain is not normal though. You should call us immediately if you experience any distress or the aid hurts your ear.
Putting your aid in place is a little like putting a puzzle piece in place – It goes in only one way. Practice (usually only a little is needed) makes inserting your aid easier and easier.
- The one marked with red lettering is for the right ear (Red = Right)
- The one marked with blue lettering is for the left ear.(Those who do things nautical are familiar with the Red-Right mnemonic!)
Hold it as the audiologist instructed you to best insert it. Call us if you have trouble. PATIENCE – this is a learning experience. You will get better the more you practice – and everyone does things a little differently.
We will help you learn this but ultimately, the best way is determined by whatever is best for your dexterity, handiness, etc. Inserting/removing your aid should not hurt. Take your time and don’t force it. Use a bit of lubrication (water-based, such as hand lotion) on the sides to help it slide in if you feel this will help.
DON’T HURRY. Reserve plenty of time to get it in before you need to go somewhere.
Getting used to your new aid(s):
Start with simple listening situations:
- One-to-one conversations in quiet surroundings with the speaker a few feet away.
- Listening to conversations on the television or radio, again in quiet and only a few feet away from you.
- Books On Tape and newscasts are good resources to practice with.
As you get used to these situations, you can venture into more complicated listening situations. Stay near the speaker and away from as much noise as possible.
Don’t get discouraged by background noise. Re-learning your hearing takes time.
Don’t expect to get everything said to you. Even normal-hearing people miss some things. Someone whispering to you is not giving the aids a fair test. They should use a regular conversational volume.
Again, if you are generally in complicated, busy situations, you may need to use both ears. Consider two hearing aids if you need to hear well in these situations. Try this to see if you observe an improvement over a single aid.
Changes in your voice:
Your voice will sound a little funny with some types of hearing aids. This is because:
- your ear canals are closed off by the device. This changes the ear canal resonance and makes you sound more hollow or just “different”.
- you are hearing more of your voice through the hearing aid. This is not unlike hearing your voice for the first time on an answering machine or tape recorder. (“That’s not me!”)
This new sensation will get better as you wear the aids and get used to your voice with them in place. It will always sound this way…..but you won’t notice it after a short time.
If you have an ‘open fit’ hearing aid, you should hear your own voice more naturally right away.
Your hearing aid has a battery. It goes in only one way.
The door is shaped like the battery. It is wide on the top (positive) side and narrow on the bottom (negative) side. You will find a colored tape on the positive side when you open the package. Your aid is fail-safe. The battery door will not shut if the battery is placed in wrong.
If you force the battery in, the hearing aid door will probably break off. This requires professional repair but it’s done in our office and there’s a small charge for parts and labor if your hearing aid is not under warranty. Give us a call if this has happened to you. Don’t panic! Your hearing aid is not ruined!!!
Some batteries have a “hump” on them which can catch in the battery section of the aid. Buy Ray-O-Vac or Eveready batteries. These have a smooth (+) side and are best. The batteries we carry and give you with the aid are Ray-O-Vac and are guaranteed to work well for you. We also have a Battery Club to save you time and expense going to the store for batteries. Ask us about it.
Battery life: Generally, a hearing aid battery lasts between 7 and 14 days depending on battery size, the amount of drain on the battery for power when using special features in the aid, and the number of hours you wear the aid each day.
Batteries come in different sizes and each are color-coded. Yours will be a certain size and will thus have a specific color code to help you look for replacements in most stores. These color codes are universal for hearing aid batteries so if you can’t remember the size, remember the color!
Your aid can get clogged with dust, hair oil and earwax. This can hinder or stop the aid from working properly. (See Cleaning and Maintaining Your Aid )
Your aid is special to your needs. It may have additional, special features like these:
The volume wheel is for you to adjust/fine tune the aid to your most comfortable range.
You might have a button or switch. This is to activate special settings:
Telephone coil/switch which allows you to hear a phone conversation
without the hearing aid whistling and with greater volume and clarity.
Directional microphones that enable you to focus on sounds from the front and reduce reception of sounds coming from the back. It lets you “point” your hearing at what’s important.
Low Battery Indicator which on many aids will emit a series of beeps spontaneously while you are wearing it. This indicates that it is time to change the battery.
Hearing aid batteries do not behave like flashlight batteries. If a flashlight battery gets weak, the light gets dimmer and dimmer. If a hearing aid battery gets weak, the aid just stops.
FM Tuning of an FM receiver is actually built right in to some of the newest digital hearing aids. This enables the user to tune in to specific FM transmission wavelength common to many public address systems. In this way, the wearer can hear what is being said at a great distance as though it were being said right in front of him (see FM SYSTEMS for more information).
You will receive much information the first day you get your hearing aids.
This is only an introduction. You have a long way to go. While you will likely remember a lot of this information but you probably won’t remember it all. You’ll have an instruction manual that may help you and we encourage you to take the time to familiarize yourself with that important guidance.
We know, though, that you will have questions when you start using the aids. These you can ask at your next visit(s) or you can call us right away. We generally like to see you back 10-14 days after the initial hearing aid fitting which gives us a chance to review the initial instructions with you and continue with additional information. We encourage you to ask as many questions as you can think of so your hearing aid value will be maximized. We also encourage you to jot down things you think of as you’re practicing with your aid so you won’t forget them.
When you return the first time, we will likely change the settings of your hearing aids based on what you have experienced in your first few days/weeks of use. This fine tunes the aids to your specific lifestyle and hearing needs.
We might need to re-shape the outside of your aids to make them fit better and more comfortably. This is done right in the office while you wait, again at no additional charge. We want you to have a comfortable and useful hearing aid!
Ultimately, the time we spend together will help you get adjusted to your hearing aids and get the most benefit from them.
When all is well and you seem fully satisfied, this is still the beginning of our relationship. We will want to see you periodically (at least twice a year) to make adjustments, re-tune your aids and clean them of earwax and debris. This will assure that you are hearing at 100% of your potential for as long as you use the aids.