All hearing aids increase the level of a sound so you can hear the sound better and use this information to understand the world around you.
Not all hearing aids will do well in noisy places however. Hearing aids pick up all sounds. Some hearing aids, such as digital ones, are designed to separate the important sounds from the background noise to help you “focus” your attention on what you need to hear.
Hearing aids will help you hear conversations at a reasonable distance. Honestly, hearing aids will not be as effective beyond 15 feet. This is why they are so much more effective in your living room than they are at church or in a conference room. There are other technologies which help in these areas.
Hearing aids will often make your voice sound funny or different. Right away, your hearing aid will make you hear well for the first time in a long time. Also (depending on the model), they take up space in the ear which changes the way sound resonates in your head. Part of this effect can be duplicated if you stick your finger in your ear. Ultimately, the wearer gets used to this sound fairly soon if they use their hearing aid(s) consistently. Your Audiologist can also make physical and programming adjustments to the aids to reduce this.
Hearing aids are not normal hearing. They are an artificial device providing electronically altered sound to a damaged ear. There are many adjustments your Audiologist can make to these aids to change the way they sound and work. You, the wearer, will change too as you continue wearing the aids. You will adapt to the new sound. Remember, while they are not the same as normal hearing, they are better than not being able to hear and function in the world.
Hearing aids take time to adapt to. Some people become accustomed to them in a few days while others might need to work with them for a few weeks. Still others might need a few months of consistent use to be fully comfortable and confident.
Hearing aids are supposed to feel snug and maybe even a little “full” at first. Hearing aids are not supposed to hurt. If you experience pain or soreness from wearing them, stop using them until you can get back to the audiologist for adjustments.
No two ears are exactly alike, including the two on our own head. Don’t be surprised if the sound quality is a little different in the left ear than in the right. The right aid may feel different in your ear than the left as well.
Hearing and vision are interrelated. We “hear” with our eyes, too. Reading someone’s gestures and facial expressions help us to stay focused on what they are talking about. Try to make eye contact with the person you are speaking with. This will keep them focused on you and how they are communicating with you as well. It also helps to get as close as possible to the person speaking and as far as is practical from any extra sounds which might distract you or overshadow the speaker’s voice.
You will hear better with two aids than with one. You have two ears because you need two ears. For anyone, listening with just one ear is more dull and artificial than with two. Two ears help us to locate a sound and direct our attention to it. If there is more than one sound, two ears help you find the source of the one you are listening to thus better enabling you to focus in on it.
No one can hear as well with one ear as they can with two. It is impossible to tell the direction of a sound with one ear. It is also much harder for even normal hearing listeners to focus on one sound in the presence of background noise using one ear.
I have known some people to tell a potential hearing aid user, “If you don’t start wearing a hearing aid right away, you’ll lose all of your hearing!” For the most part, this is a scare tactic but there is some truth in this as well.
An ear is just like any other part of your body: if you don’t use it, it gets “lazy” or less able to function. This is called atrophy. If someone has useable hearing in both ears and chooses to help only one, in time the unassisted ear can become less able to function for communication even if the hearing levels stay the same.