Just as wearing glasses or braces takes some time to get used to, wearing a new hearing aid up to 16 hours a day when you’ve never worn one before will require some adjustment. Still, there is a distinction to make between things you will just have to get used to and complaints that might indicate the need for an adjustment or repair. To help you decide, here is a list of five common complaints from first-time hearing aid users, why they happen and when they are reasons for concern.
1. The hearing aid feels uncomfortable
Having something around or inside your ear will feel strange at first, and may even cause irritation or discomfort. If you’re experiencing discomfort, you should talk to your hearing instrument specialist about it. They may recommend a gradual adjustment period – for instance, wearing your hearing aid for fewer hours a day and building up to wearing it full time. On the other hand, they will notice right away if your hearing aid isn’t fitting correctly. With a good fit, you’ll eventually get used to wearing a hearing aid and will even forget it’s there.
2. Your voice sounds loud
If you’ve ever noticed how strange or loud your voice sounds when your ears become partially plugged while sick or adjusting to the pressure changes on an airplane, you’ve experienced what’s known as the occlusion effect. Wearing a hearing aid will feel similar at first, since your ears are plugged with a hearing aid tip.
Just like the feel of the hearing aid, the illusion of loudness is something you will eventually get used to. Most new hearing aid wearers will adjust to this phenomenon in less than a month, and often as quickly as a few weeks.
In rare cases, your hearing aid may need to be loosened, so check with a hearing instrument specialist just in case.
3. Background noise seems louder
Although new technology allows some hearing aids to detect and amplify conversation while decreasing background noise, you will still hear some background noise. Again, this is something hearing aid wearers get used to over time.
Meanwhile, when you’re in an environment with distracting background noise, you may need to temporarily adjust the hearing aid’s volume.
If you continue to struggle with background noise, visit your specialist to see if any settings need to be readjusted.
4. Noises seem sharper or ‘tinny’
Since higher-pitched sounds are usually the first to fade out from gradual hearing loss, they may seem oddly sharp when they’re amplified by a hearing aid. Just as your mind has adapted to hearing loss (often over a matter of years), it will need to readjust to hearing sounds it isn’t used to hearing clearly. Just like other sound differences, this is a trait you’ll adjust to over the course of a few weeks.
5. You experience a buzzing sound when using your cellphone
If you’re new to wearing a hearing aid, you may also notice an occasional buzzing sound while on the phone, caused by the interference of radio frequencies used by the cell phone and hearing aid. Thanks to advances in technology, this problem is less of an issue than it used to be, but older hearing aids and certain phones might still produce interference.
When you visit a hearing instrument specialist, take your cell phone with you so they can make sure it’s compatible with your hearing aid model. If not, you may need to select a different phone or hearing aid.
Knowing the difference between issues that are just a normal part of adjusting to life with a hearing aid and those that may require a visit to a hearing instrument specialist can save you worry, frustration, money, and most of all – keep you hearing well.