How can hearing aids help?
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that you wear in or behind your ears. They make some sounds louder so that you can listen, communicate and participate more fully in daily activities. If you have hearing loss, hearing aids can help you hear more clearly in both quiet and noisy situations.
Today’s hearing aids come in many different shapes and sizes and have achieved high quality sound. A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier and receiver. It receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear.
Consider these good reasons for using hearing aids:
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Institute on Aging found that even mild hearing loss can triple the risk of falling, with the risk increasing by 140 percent for every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss.
People who can't hear well are less aware of their surroundings, making it more likely to stumble, trip or fall. Also, balance requires brain power and people with hearing loss use more brain function to hear and understand, which means that there are fewer mental resources left to help stay upright.
Improve your mood
Hearing disorders are associated with depression. A survey by the National Council on Aging of 2,300 hearing-impaired adults, age 50 and older, found that those with untreated hearing loss are more likely to have depression and anxiety than those who use hearing aids. Among those with severe hearing loss, 30 percent of nonusers of hearing aids admitted feelings of sadness, compared to 22 percent of hearing aid users.
One possible reason: People who are hearing impaired are a lot less likely to participate in social activities. Retreating from social situations leads to loneliness — and loneliness leads to depression.
Increase your brain power
The use of hearing aids can help improve brain function and working memory. A research team from the University of Maryland Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences (HESP) followed 35 older adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss who had never worn hearing aids. One group was given hearing aids to wear over a period of six months; the other group went without. The researchers used a variety of tests to assess participants’ hearing, as well as their working memory, attention and processing speed. After six months, the same tests were repeated. They learned that those who wore hearing aids showed improved memory, as well as an improvement in the way the brain processed sound.
Hearing loss causes degraded signals that require extra brain work to make sense of them. This makes less brain resource available for concentration and memory.
On the other hand, when you're able to hear, “it frees up resources in the brain that can be used for cognitive function,” notes HESP Assistant Professor Samira Anderson, who led the research at the University of Maryland.
Decrease your risk of dementia
Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging researchers found that older adults with hearing loss may be more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing. A 2011 study focused on participants whose hearing and cognitive abilities were tested regularly for a period of 12 to 18 years. Though 25% of the people had some hearing loss when the study began, none had dementia. Researchers found that those who had hearing loss at the beginning of the study were much more likely to develop dementia.
How are hearing loss and dementia related? It may be that the constant strain of deciphering sounds over the years overwhelms the brains of people with hearing loss, leaving them vulnerable to dementia. Also, those who can't hear well become socially isolated, leading to less mental stimulation and isolation. Most importantly, hearing loss results in tissue loss in the hearing portion of the brain, which is also responsible for functions such as memory, learning and thinking.
Improve your income
Untreated hearing loss takes a toll on your bank account. A national survey conducted by the Better Hearing Institute found that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids don’t lose as much as $12,000 in annual income, depending on the degree of loss. Also, those with severe hearing loss have double the unemployment rates compared normal-hearing population, and almost double that of those using aids.
Stay out of the hospital
A 2018 study from the University of Michigan reported that older adults who wear hearing aids are less likely to be hospitalized. Those that are hospitalized have shorter stays. Moreover, older adults with untreated hearing loss have much higher health care costs compared to those who don't — an average of 46 percent more, according to a 2018 study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Communication is key when it comes to maintaining personal relationships. A British study reports that almost half of those surveyed said that relationships with their partner, friends or family suffered because they couldn't hear well; over half said they feel left out and ignored in social situations; and one third percent lost touch with friends.
A study published by the ASHA Leader found that relationships with partners seem to suffer the most from hearing loss. The good news: In a Hear the World Foundation survey of more than 4,000 people, 70 percent of respondents said that hearing aids improved their relationships.
What are hearing aids?
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that make some sounds louder so that you can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. If you have hearing loss, hearing aids can help you hear more clearly in both quiet and noisy situations.
Hearing aids receive sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker. Advanced technology has additional functionality to address difficult situations such as background noise or feedback. Miniature computerization provides more features and better signal processing.
Modern hearing aids are digital, which converts sound waves into numerical codes before amplifying them. Because the code also includes information about a sound’s pitch or loudness, the aid can be specially programmed to amplify some frequencies more than others. Digital circuitry provides more flexibility in adjusting the aid to specific needs and certain listening environments. These aids also can be programmed to focus on sounds coming from a specific direction. Digital circuitry can be used in all types of hearing aids.
Due to new innovations in technology, hearing aids connect us with our friends, hobbies, and our environment. Hearing aids that connect to smart-phones via Bluetooth® also allow the user to stream calls and music directly from a phone or tablet to the hearing aids, amplifying sound and cutting out back-ground noise.
With remote accessories like TV streamers, hearing aid wearers can enjoy their favorite TV shows or movies with clear, stereo sounds streamed to their hearing aids. This will allow friends and family to enjoy watching alongside the hearing aid user at comfortable volume levels.
What you need to know about hearing aids
Properly fitted hearing aids can vastly improve the quality of life for almost everyone with hearing loss. Your hearing provider will guide you in the process of selecting and learning to use hearing aids successfully.
Modern technology brings us hearing aids that are smaller, smarter and more effective than ever before. Did you know that hearing aids are often much less noticeable than hearing loss?
Advanced digital hearing processing can match your unique hearing loss. They are also available in many colors and comfortable styles. Age old complaints of whistling, echoes, and background noise are a thing of the past with today’s hearing aids. Many hearing aids can automatically adjust to your preference while others can be manually changed with switches, remote controls or even your smart phone!
Some hearing aids are even equipped with multiple levels of programming, (memories or programs), which perform differently under varying listening conditions. They can automatically store data and switch to desired settings in different situations. For your best telephone listening experience, inquire about hearing aids with built-in telephone coils that allow you to hear more clearly when using a phone.
For your best sound clarity and understanding, Bluetooth functionality wireless connects with smartphones, televisions, iPads and other electronic devices to deliver a customized listening experience. One thing to remember, even the best hearing aids are only as effective as the skilled hearing provider who matches the technology features to your needs and unlocks your key to better hearing.
What do hearing aids look like?
Behind-the-ear (BTE)hearing aids rest comfortably behind the ear and come in colors that match your hair or skin. Sound is directed into the ear canal with a clear plastic tube that sits close to the head making it barely noticeable. BTEs are suitable for most types of hearing loss, from mild to profound. They’re often the easiest to adjust and give less feedback than other devices. Discreet yet visible, BTEs are the most powerful compared to other styles and have the fewest number of reported problems with wax or ear infections.
Receiver-in-canal (RIC)hearing aids are one of the least noticeable devices. They sit behind the ear and can accommodate most types of hearing loss. Unlike the BTE, the RIC has permanent tubing with a receiver that sits deep inside the canal and can be custom made. RIC hearing aids are known for limiting occlusion—the “plugged-up” sensation that causes a hearing aid user’s voice to sound louder inside the head. These hearing aids can also be referred to asreceiver-in-the-ear or RITE—the two are almost the same, but sometimes RITE aids have the receiver set a little further back from the eardrum than the RIC.
In-the-Ear (ITE, or Full Shell)hearing aids sit in the outer ear. They have the longest battery life of all the in-the-ear styles and are appropriate for a wide range of hearing losses accommodating almost all of the features and options currently available. Because of their moderate size they’re easy to put in and adjust. ITEs are custom made to sit flush with your outer ear and are easy to manipulate.
In-the-canal (ITC)hearing aids sit in the ear canal opening. They’re discreet, but less powerful and have a shorter battery life than the others—although they give a clear sound. Because of their lower power they’re unsuitable for those with severe hearing loss. ITC hearing aids can also be matched to your skin color.
Completely-in-canal (CIC)hearing aids are custom-molded and placed within the ear canal. They are discreet—with shells that match skin tones—and powerful. They can accommodate most types of hearing loss. Typically only the small removal handle or string of a CIC is visible outside the ear canal. Because they are custom made, they are quite comfortable. Most CIC hearing aids have automatic settings that require little user manipulation once fitted by a hearing health specialist, but they can be paired with a remote. Depending on the shape of a person’s canal and their comfort levels, these hearing aids can be placed quite far within the ear and sometimes can be even invisible.
Invisible-in-canal hearing aids (IIC)are the smallest type of hearing aids available today. They use the ears natural shape to funnel sound down to all the electronics housed inside this tiny custom-made shell. Because the IIC hearing aids sit so deeply in the ear, they have no wind noise, feedback or occlusion. These hearing aids are typically treated with a special coating that allows them to be used in the shower, but ask your hearing health provider if the model you want is safe to wear in water. Though they sit within the ear canal, IIC can be removed, handled and adjusted by a typical user. These hearing aids can also be paired with a remote control, giving the user the ability to moderate volume.
Today’s hearing aid features
Bluetooth® Compatibility allows hands-free use of compatible wireless devices like cell phones. You connect directly and hear more clearly and comfortably – with no wires.
Directional Microphones are more sensitive to sound approaching from one direction, such as the front, while minimizing unwanted sounds from other directions. This feature is helpful for conversing in noisy situations, like restaurants.
Feedback Suppression reduces feedback (that annoying whistling sound).
Noise Reduction automatically alters the response of the hearing aid in noisy situations and is most useful with steady noise, such as fans, motors, etc.
Programs are different settings within the hearing aid for different situations such as quiet places, noisy places and telephone use. Advanced hearing aids have memories that are automatic or in a combination of both manual and automatic. This allows the user to select listening preferences, depending on the situation.
Remote Control is an optional accessory with some hearing aids that allow the wearer to discreetly make adjustments. It is also convenient for those with dexterity issues.
Speech Enhancement technology allows hearing aids to detect certain speech sounds and provide extra amplification to those sounds. This makes speech clearer and easier to understand.
Telecoil amplifies sound from the telephone or loop amplification system without picking up background noise, which helps prevent feedback. This results in better hearing on the phone.
Rechargeable battery options are available with some models. Enjoy the freedom of on the go listening with an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional batteries. Simply charge and go.
Hearing aids operate based on algorithms. An algorithm is a set of steps used to accomplish a task. Algorithms tell the minicomputers inside your digital hearing aids how to sort and categorize various noises and environments. And they do this in a way that is similar to how your hearing brain works.
Your brain compensates for any shift in environment and for disturbance in background noise—it does this automatically. To accomplish this same task, hearing aids use algorithms to distinguish different sounds, sorting and classifying millions of sounds in the blink of an eye.
This is important because when you have hearing loss, the task of sorting sounds becomes more difficult. Which is one of the many reasons why hearing loss can cause exhaustion as people strain to hear.
In the past, hearing aids were designed to amplify all sounds. They didn’t do this important job of sorting and categorizing and letting you hear only what you needed. Since the development of more and more sophisticated algorithms, digital hearing aids have been able to solve issues like feedback, whistling, wind in noise and the so-called “cocktail problem” or background noise.
These remarkable algorithms have done this task so well, that in one study people with hearing loss who used hearing aids heard better in background noise situations than people with average hearing. Hearing aids filter out the sounds we don’t want to hear while enhancing the ones we do want to hear.
That’s amazing! Especially if you think about what hearing instruments must do to achieve this remarkable feat of engineering. Background noise can come from one direction, many directions (like wind), can be stationary, can move around, or it can be bounced off the acoustics in a room. Background noises can include sounds like fans, car engines, people talking in the next room, and other environmental sounds.
Today’s hearing aids can keep up! Advancements allow the hearing aid to compensate automatically for environment and background noise. Thanks to algorithms, hearing instruments can analyze millions of sounds and deliver the ones you want to hear. Better still, because hearing instruments are basically little computers, they also can learn what sounds you prefer, and which you’d rather not hear at all. In other words, today’s hearing aids not only mimic your natural hearing brain through sophisticated algorithms, but they adjust and learn just like your brain too.
Hearing aids have come a long way—they’re no longer big, bulky and obtrusive, they’re small, discreet and very powerful. If you already wear hearing aids, you’re most likely enjoying the benefits. Hearing aids are an investment, but like all technology, there comes a time when you need maintenance on your device and eventually a replacement. Knowing when it’s time to upgrade or replace hearing aids will ensure that you continue to get the best results from your device.
Technology has made it easy to customize hearing aids to an individual’s type/degree of hearing loss, their lifestyle and budget. If you’re thinking about purchasing new hearing aids, here are a few guidelines to help you make a decision about when to upgrade your device.
You can expect 3-5 years of life from your hearing aids—and sometimes even longer, depending on usage, care and maintenance. Here are a few scenarios when it would be a good time to purchase a new pair:
- Your features could use an upgrade. Hearing aid technology is constantly evolving, and today’s models are more powerful, intuitive and discreet than before. If your hearing aids are a few years old, the newer generation of technology may have more advanced or updated features that you aren’t currently benefiting from like internet connectivity, binaural processing, spatial sound, digital noise reduction, blue tooth compatibility, wind noise reduction, data logging and more.
- Your hearing aids are always breaking down. Time, everyday use and environmental elements take a toll on hearing aids. If your hearing aid is more than five years old and frequently in need of prepare, it’s probably a good time to consider new technology.
- Your hearing aids are out of warranty. Once your warranty has expired, it may be costly to repair your older hearing aids. It may be more practical to invest in new technology that will provide added benefits.
- Your hearing loss has changed. Hearing can change over time. You may notice that with your current hearing aids it becomes harder to understand speech and sound. Even with hearing aids, getting an annual hearing assessment will alert you to any changes in your hearing. Your hearing care provider may be able to adjust your current hearing aids to these changes, but if that’s not working you can start thinking about a new device to better serve your current hearing needs.
Good hearing results in positive health outcomes, increases social engagement, improves communication, and lowers the risk of depression.
Good hearing health eliminates the frustration of missing out on conversations and feeling isolated in social situations.
Hearing health is thought to have positive benefits on brain functioning such as memory, as well as other physical health benefits.
When you’re able to hear your fire alarm, a doorbell ring, or an emergency vehicle on the road behind you, you are more aware of your surroundings and stay safer when alone.
The first step in overcoming hearing loss is to schedule a hearing examination. Your licensed hearing provider will welcome you to the office and perform a series of procedures that will assist in determining the type and degree of hearing loss you might have. You can expect these procedures:
- Ear examination with a special light to provide good visibility
- An interview around your health and hearing concerns
- A complete hearing evaluation that measures your responses to speech and sound
- A thorough explanation of your test results
If hearing aids are recommended for you, your provider will provide options and descriptions that take into consideration your test results, lifestyle, technology preferences, cosmetic and dexterity issues, and your budget. Financing programs are available through Your Hearing Network.
Your hearing brain is amazing. Every day it sorts through the beautiful, noisy world of sounds and automatically tunes out or lowers the ones that are disturbing or distracting. Which is why when you’re concentrating hard on something, you might not notice someone calling your name. But what would happen if instead of tuning out these noises, your brain created these annoying or distracting sounds? Many studies suggest that’s exactly what happens with people who have tinnitus.
When you have tinnitus, you hear sounds even though there is no actual noise present. These “phantom” sounds can be a chirping, hissing, buzzing, whistling, humming, or beeping. All of these sounds are thought to be the brain’s way of compensating for a lack of auditory stimulation.
In other words, tinnitus may be a symptom of hearing loss. These symptoms can get worse depending on what you eat and how you feel emotionally. In fact, negative emotions can play a huge part in increasing this serious problem. How serious is tinnitus? Well for more than two million Americans, tinnitus is annoying and often debilitating.
But there’s good news! Research has shown a treatment plan is the best way to help manage tinnitus. That’s because disturbances in different parts of the brain, including the limbic system, which is responsible for regulating sensory information and your mood, play key roles in the severity of tinnitus.
Positive results seen through a multi-treatment approach, like stress relief (meditation, behavioral therapy, antidepressants) and an introduction of auditory sounds stimulation, aren’t just a fluke.
In fact, hearing aid manufacturers have taken the positive results people have had with multi-treatment approach and designed their hearing aids to work with them. Ask your provider for more information about hearing aids that incorporate tinnitus relief.
A cochlear implant is used when a hearing aid isn’t enough to help someone with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. Cochlear implants don’t work the same way hearing aids do—instead of making sounds louder they send sound signals directly to the hearing nerve in the brain. They bypass damaged portions of the ear and provide direct stimulation to the auditory nerve.
A cochlear implant is implanted surgically. It is made up of one part which is placed inside the ear during surgery, and the other part which is worn outside the ear after surgery and sends sounds to the parts inside the ear. Basically, a cochlear implant acts as the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain. Talk with your physician or an otolaryngologist about cochlear implants.
When you first get hearing aids, a whole new world of sounds opens up. Sounds you may have forgotten or taken for granted—waves crashing, birds chirping, your grandchildren’s soft whispers…expectations for sounds vary depending on the individual level of loss.
The good part is that today’s hearing aid technology offers flexibility and ease in programming (and re-programming) sound quality. This means your hearing care professional can adjust and re-program your hearing aids until you’re comfortable.
Want to learn more? Here’s what you can expect when you first purchase hearing aids.
Adjustment period. It takes time to adjust to hearing aids - anywhere from two weeks and up. You will need to get used to the new routine of wearing hearing aids and your brain needs time to adapt to processing the new sounds that it’s hearing. A global study found that it takes the brain twelve weeks of intensive training— wearing a hearing aid for at least 12 hours a day—to process speech even nearly as well as before for both individuals wearing hearing aids for the first time and switching devices.
Follow up appointments to fine-tune your devices. During your follow up appointment, talk to your hearing professional and let them know how you’re adjusting. Ask questions—they may be able to help you troubleshoot and find solutions to issues you may be experiencing.
Expect to hear sounds you haven’t heard before. The sounds that people fit with hearing aids say they notice again might surprise you. They are the small sounds, a lot of us take for granted in our daily lives until they’re gone—or in this case return. Background noise like clanking dishes or traffic may seem annoying at first—but they are part of the adjustment period.
If you’ve given yourself time to adjust and worked with your hearing professional to find solutions, but still aren’t feeling comfortable, you may want to try different devices or discuss other options.
Today’s hearing devices are impressive—they can scan the room around you a hundred times in one second categorizing sounds then delivering them to your ears with spot-on accuracy. Bonus—they can even connect to the Internet and to all your favorite apps, including your everyday devices in your home, car or office. Ask your provider for a demonstration.
Use a dehumidifier if you plan on working up a sweat. This is so you can dry your hearing aids each night and prevent moisture accumulation, which can damage hearing aids. It can also provide a convenient way to store them. Because humidity can affect hearing aids, store your hearing aids in a dry place at room temperature.
Use a sports clip to keep your hearing aid safe while active. A sport clip has a wire or plastic piece that wraps around your ear to help keep your hearing aid in place. You can also go for a sports necklace that clips onto the hearing aid and wraps around the back of your head. Another option is a waterproof ear band, worn like a regular sweatband, to keep your device in place.
Buy a sleeve for your hearing aid if you know you’ll be active or outdoors. While sleeves can’t protect your hearing aid from excessive amounts of water, they can protect them from sweat, dust and splashes of water, while still allowing sound to enter the microphone. So, whether you’re going out for a jog, or hitting the slopes, sleeves can offer a good option for keeping your hearing aid dry and in good condition.
Clean your hearing aid regularly. Germs, bacteria and fungi thrive in moisture from sweat so cleaning your hearing aids with disinfectant wipes is necessary to keep them from spreading bacteria. Earwax and ear drainage can also damage your device. To clean your hearing aids, use wipes made specifically for this purpose that you can take on the go. Ask your hearing professional the best way to keep your hearing aids clean.
Enjoy being active outdoors even on windy days. In the past, even a light breeze could cause irritating noise called “whistling” in the hearing aid and disrupt an individual’s ability to understand speech. Today’s hearing aid technology has changed all of that, and wind interference is automatically reduced (through wind reduction settings) in many current devices.
If you exercise outdoors, use caution when applying sunscreen oils or sprays. The oil and chemicals in sunscreen can damage your device. Wash and dry your hands after applying sunscreen and before putting on your hearing aid, avoid the spray type of sunscreen around your head and face and make sure the sunscreen is fully rubbed in or dry before putting your hearing aid back on.
Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use. If batteries are dead, replace them immediately. Remember to keep replacement batteries and hearing aids away from children and pets.
Most hearing aids use disposable cell batteries to function properly. To help you get the most out of your hearing aid batteries, it’s important to know what factors affect battery life, how to properly care for them and replace them correctly. Whether you’re new to hearing aids or just trying to get the most out of your batteries, read on for some helpful tips.
Change your batteries if sounds become distorted or you have to turn up the volume more than usual. Some hearing aids make a small beeping sound when the battery is low. When the alarm beeps, switch out the batteries immediately—a dead battery may swell and become difficult to remove. It is also a good idea to carry an extra set of batteries with you at all times because hearing aid batteries often lose power very suddenly. Reminder—before changing batteries, wash your hands well—grease and dirt can damage the hearing aid.
Check to see if you have the right battery size before you open the package. Hearing aid batteries come in four common sizes with universal color coding—they are 10, 13, 312 and 675. To identify the size, most manufacturers use an industry standard color code on their zinc air tabs and packaging—yellow for size 10, brown for size 312 (most common in the U.S), orange for size 13 and blue for Size 675. The most common type is the zinc-air button battery.
Store batteries at room temperature, away from small children and pets. Batteries should be stored at room temperature, between 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit (heat and humidity can affect battery life). In the past, it was recommended to store batteries in the refrigerator to prolong their life, but with today’s technology, doing so will ruin them. Avoid leaving batteries out in extreme temperatures like in the car, outside in the heat or in the freezer. Keep new batteries stored safely in a closed container and pack and discard old batteries immediately when you remove them so that your pets or children can’t get to them. To avoid damage, store batteries in a separate compartment in your bag, away from metal objects like coins and keys which can also damage them.
Remove the batteries from the pack only when you’re ready to use them. Keep them fresh by keeping them sealed. Also, pay attention to the expiration date on the pack. Zinc-air batteries will begin to discharge when you remove the sticker, so it’s best to wait until you’re ready to use them. Even re-applying the sticker won’t stop this process. Normally, batteries last anywhere from three to 22 days, depending on the hearing aid, the type and capacity of the battery and the amount of use. Most batteries have a “shelf-life” of about three years.
Wait at least one minute before placing the batteries in your hearing aids. This allows the battery cell to absorb oxygen and then activate. Zinc-air batteries are designed with fine holes and a filter, which means that your batteries should be exposed to air for a full 60 seconds before installing.
Leave the battery compartment door open at night. Keeping the battery door open allows moisture to escape and keeps your hearing aids in good condition. Doing so may help to conserve battery life as well. Remove the batteries if you’re not wearing your hearing aids for more than two days.
Get rid of old batteries as soon as you remove them. Since the majority of batteries today don’t contain mercury, you can throw them out in the garbage without worrying about any health or environmental risks, but they’re still dangerous if swallowed.
If you’re new to hearing aids or have been wearing them for a while, you probably know how important it is to follow a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule. Most hearing aids have an extended warranty that covers some repairs within three years from the date of purchase. Make sure you are familiar with the types of damage and repairs covered in your manufacturer or extended warranty.
But before you go ahead and call your hearing professional, there are a few things you can do on your own.
Check the battery. Put a fresh pair of batteries in your device and check if that resolves the issues. Batteries can be faulty, so give this tip a shot before moving onto the rest.
Check the microphones and the receiver tube (the part that enters your ear canal) for blockage. If you can’t hear clearly, this might be the reason why. When the receiver tube or microphone is blocked with debris or dirt, the sound can’t reach your ear canal. If that’s the case, use the cleaning brush that usually comes with your hearing aid to remove it.
Try resetting your hearing aids or devices connected to it. This may help resolve any connection issues you may be having. Turn your hearing aids off, and restart your smartphone, tablet or any other device that’s connected to your hearing aids. When you turn your hearing aids back on, check to see if all devices are synched properly.
Still not working? Don’t stress—most hearing aid problems can be resolved with patience and a little troubleshooting. Here are some other common hearing aid issues you may encounter.
I can’t get used to my hearing aids. Are you new to hearing aids? Some wearers adjust to hearing aids right away and some take a little longer—it’s natural to have an adjustment period. You will need to get used to the new routine of wearing hearing aids and your brain needs to adjust and adapt to processing sounds that it’s hearing. Try to increase the time you wear your hearing aids each day until you’re comfortable wearing them for a full day. It takes the brain 12 weeks of intensive training— wearing a hearing aid for at least 12 hours a day—to process speech even nearly as well as before for both individuals wearing hearing aids for the first time and those switching devices.
My hearing aids aren’t loud enough. First, inspect your hearing aids. Do you see wax blocking the microphone opening? If so, clean it out. If your hearing aid has tubing, like a Behind the Ear (BTE) device, check to make sure there is no damage to the tube, or accumulated moisture. If there are no blockages, try turning up the volume. If they still aren’t loud enough, contact your hearing provider.
I get feedback from my hearing aid. A whistling sound can be caused by a hearing aid that does not fit or work well or is clogged by earwax or fluid. First, try taking your hearing aids out and putting them back in. If that doesn’t work, turn down the volume—if they stop whistling then you may need to have them adjusted by your hearing care professional because that means there is too much sound coming in through the vent.
I hear background noise. Background noise is most evident to new hearing aid users because they may not have heard any for a long time. The ability to suddenly hear these “annoying” noises like screeching brakes and clanking dishes may be overwhelming at first but gets easier with time. Although hearing aids may not eliminate background noise, they do have very sophisticated noise processing circuitry, which means the sound quality is more natural, even with background noise present. Many hearing aids have channels that filter out background noise, some of which change automatically in different listening situations, making it easier to focus on your conversation and less on what is happening around you.
I hear a buzzing sound when I use my cell phone. Cell phones sometimes cause radio frequency interference with hearing aids causing users to hear high-pitched whistling sounds, buzzing or static while on the phone. If you’re in the market for a new cell phone, try out different brands and models first to see which works best for you. Some phones have lower radio frequency emissions or use different technologies that can reduce these effects on hearing aids. The FCC now requires cell phone manufacturers to test and rate their wireless handsets’ hearing aid compatibility using the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C63.19 standard. These ratings give an indication of the likelihood a cell phone may interfere with hearing aids—the higher the rating, the less likely you’ll experience interference with your hearing aid. Pay attention to the ratings when choosing a cell phone.
Still have questions? Contact your hearing provider for an appointment.