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Help! I can't get on with my hearing aid

It is said that getting used to a hearing aid takes time. The advice on how to do it is very widely publicised, and was provided by the Audiology Department of my local NHS* hospital. So I am probably not breaking any copyright regulations by re-stating it - see the box below.

HOW TO GET USED TO A NEW HEARING AID

The official advice

Day 1:

Start by using your hearing aids at home where it is quiet for just a couple of hours or so on the first day. Try listening to the TV on your own, or talking to just one other person. Your own voice may sound a little strange, and you may notice more background sounds around the house.

Days 2 - 4:

Try using the hearing aids for about an hour longer each day. Try using the hearing aids in noisier rooms of the home as well, such as the kitchen. Hopefully, you'll find that listening becomes a little easier each day. You might also want to go into the garden or just outside your house.

Days 5 - 14:

Each day, try to increase the time you use your hearing aids by a further hour. You could wear them for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon. As time goes by you'll get more used to the hearing aids and start to feel more benefit. Try using them outdoors for a while - but don't forget to take them out if you're going to get wet, such as at the hairdressers or when swimming!

Day 14 onwards:

You should be working towards using the hearing aids throughout the day, from early morning to last thing at night. But don't get disheartened if you cannot progress at this pace - it's better to get real benefit during the periods in which you feel able to wear them. Remember, it can take a couple of months for your brain to get used to all the background sounds again. The world may be noisier than you remember! As the weeks pass, concentrate on focusing on what you want to hear and try to ignore background sounds.

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Does this work for you?

However, from my own experience and from talking to other hearing aid users, I believe that the advice may not go far enough for everyone because it seems to imply that the aid will be fine once you get used to it. In fact it is very likely that it will need some further adjustments first. This is fully recognised in the NHS. It may also be recognised by private providers, but paying customers tend to be unwilling to pay for what can be repeated follow-up appointments, on the assumption that they will, "get used to the aid in time"; or "don't really need to wear it much" or "can't get on with hearing aids".

  • Everything sounds too loud.
  • Some sounds are too loud.
  • Some sounds seem distorted, rather like a poor quality radio being turned up too loud.
  • One's own voice echoes and rattles around inside my head which makes it impossible to concentrate when talking to people.
  • The pressure of the hearing aids make one's ears feel bruised.
  • The hearing aids squeal embarrassingly at times.

So if you are not having much joy getting used to a hearing aid, it may simply need some adjustments. What adjustment will depend on the problems that you are experiencing. Typical ones include:

As a deaf person I have experienced all of these problems over many years. I "couldn't get on with hearing aids", and had to rely on the coping strategies described on this website. More recently, though, I have found that with today's technology many of the problems have fairly simple solutions - but they all do require return visits to whoever originally supplied the aids.

In this section of the website I share my experiences and suggest solutions to common problems. It is important, though, to draw attention to the disclaimer that is at the bottom of every page: I am not medically trained and am writing simply from personal experience in the hope that others may benefit. Your hearing is almost certainly different from mine and the solutions that suit me may not suit you. So always check with a qualified doctor or audiologist.

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* The NHS is the UK's National Health Service which is free at the point of delivery.


Disclaimer: The information on this site is for a lay audience and I cannot be responsible for errors or omissions. The views, strategies, advice and suggestions etc are based on my personal experience and are not necessarily appropriate for anyone else. They should, hopefully, stimulate individuals to develop their own strategies.