5 Tips For Success with Hearing Aids
So you got new hearing aids…maybe you are a first time user or maybe you have upgraded to a new model to better match your current hearing loss. Either way, those hearing aids will take some getting used to. I remember the first time I got prescription “progressive” trifocal eyeglasses. My eye doctor said I should wear them constantly for a minimum of two weeks to “get used to them”. As soon as I left his office, dutifully wearing the new glasses, I wanted to take them off! I was feeling nauseated and sick to my stomach as my eyes tried to adjust to the different zones on the lenses. Those first few days were horrible and I was ready to give up. But the idea of not being able to see anything clearly (and the cost of those expensive frames and lenses) kept me wearing them all day, every day. My doctor was right…after about two weeks, my eyes (and my brain) had adjusted to the new view and I was having a lot of success with my new glasses.
It’s the same with anything new…there is a breaking in period…a ‘getting to know you’ period…an “I know these are good for me so I’ll keep trying” period. To make the most of your new hearing aids, try these tips for better success.
- Communicate your needs clearly to your audiologist so they can program your new hearing aid to meet the needs of your specific hearing loss. If you don’t tell them what you hear and what you don’t, they cannot program the hearing instrument to help you. Use descriptive words when telling him the sounds that you are hearing; are the sounds whiny, whirring, buzzing, ringing, jangly, tinny…break out your thesaurus and channel your inner poet.
- Have realistic expectations. Hearing loss is usually permanent with no known cure. Hearing aids are not a cure for hearing loss. They are an ‘aid’ to assist your ears in transmitting sounds to your brain. If you have been experiencing severe hearing loss, implementing the use of a hearing aid will NOT return your hearing to normal. But it WILL give you 50% to 95% better hearing.
- Take it slow. If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of noise you can hear after wearing your hearing aids, it’s OK to turn them down a little, or wear them a little at a time, adding more time each day, until you are used to the sound. This is especially true if you are a new user or you have had severe long-term untreated hearing loss. While you were losing your hearing, you gradually got used to the quieter world in which you were living. Popping new hearing aids in after living so long in the quiet can be jarring. Your hearing aids might sound fine in the audiologists office but as you leave the office and step in to the chaos of the world suddenly everything seems to be assaulting your ears…traffic, people, wind, music, crying babies (well, crying babies never sound good). Make a deal with yourself to wear the hearing aids for a certain amount of time each day and increase that amount every day or two. In no time, you’ll find yourself getting to the end of the day without having wanted to remove your hearing aids.
- Get to know the features of your new hearing aids. Many late model hearing aids come with features that just weren’t available as little as five years ago. Find out how your smart phone can help with your hearing aids. How about a T-coil for direct sound from many household devices? Read the manufacturers information and talk to your audiologist. Get in touch with your inner technology geek and make the most of what those hearing aids can offer.
- Be motivated. Without motivation, you might be tempted to toss your new hearing aids into the desk drawer and never use them because you weren’t patient or you didn’t communicate clearly with your audiologist or you had unrealistic expectation. Then your hearing aids will be kinda like when people buy an expensive computer and all they use it for is to play Solitaire…that’s a mighty expensive game of Solitaire. You don’t want your hearing aids to be a mighty expensive experiment in hearing. You can keep motivated just knowing that your increased ability to communicate with your family is priceless to them and to you.
As with anything substantial that you purchase, there will be be people who just want to sell you as much as they can and have no interest in 1) retaining you as a client, or 2) making sure that you get the most from your purchase. It’s the same with hearing aids. There are audiologists who will just try to sell you the most expensive hearing aid with all the added bells and whistles. And there are the audiologists are really are passionate about helping people hear better and, in turn, live better lives. You will know them because they will be interested in your hearing success. They will help you with fitting, wearing, settings, maintenance, etc. They will call you to check your progress. They will take special care in programming your hearing aid to meet your hearing loss. They will always be learning about new technology to better meet your needs. They might even have cookies in their waiting room. Seek this kind of hearing professional…it’s worth it.
At ihearingaids, we screen all the audiologists in our program so we know that when we refer you to them you will get the same warm fuzzy homey feeling you would get from your closest friend….yeah…your success is that important to us!
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Quite by accident, the Hearing Health Foundation (formerly the Deafness Research Foundation) discovered that chickens can regenerate the loss of hair cells in their ears. While conducting a study on how drugs known to cause hearing damage affect the sensory cells in the inner ear, HHF-funded scientists knew that they would have to purposely damage a chicken’s hair cells.
To accomplish this, the chickens were given a common anti-biotic drug (with known hearing damage side effects) to laboratory chickens for ten days. On the 11th day the scientists could see that many of the hair cells in the inner ear were lost and the loss continued for a few days afterward. But three weeks later when the same chickens were examined, the hair cells were intact. This caused the scientists to doubt their work so they repeated the test again….and again. The findings were accurate. The chickens were, in fact, able to regenerate the hair cells of the their inner ears. We now know that this is true for all vertebrate animals except one…mammals (including humans).
The concept of the regeneration of inner ear hair cells has been proven successful with mice. An HRP* scientist discovered that mice can be stimulated to regenerate new hair cells by using a drug to block a certain auditory pathway that usually prevents hair cells in mammals from regenerating. Once the drug blocks the the pathway, the supporting cells in the cochlea were able to transform into hair cells and hearing was partially restored. There is still much work to be done but it’s now proven that hair cell regeneration in mammals is possible with a little help from modern medicine!
*The Hearing Restoration Project (HRP) funds research to translate what is known about chickens and other animals to people, with the hope of leading to a cure for hearing loss. With 90% of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) occurring with an underlying hearing loss, a cure for hearing loss may also be a cure for tinnitus.
When you need help with your hearing, ihearingaids is the place to call! We match you with a qualified and caring audiologist in your area who can determine which hearing instrument is right for you then, with care and precision, they will program your hearing aid to give you the maximum benefit for your hearing success. Contact us now!
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