One thing that we often hear from our audiology and hearing aid patients is, “How long will it take to get used to my new hearing aids?“
The short answer is between 30 and 45 days. The state of Connecticut requires that we give patients at least 30 days to “trial” their hearing aids before you keep them and at Advanced Specialty Care, we go beyond that. Our policy is a 45-day trial period and the reason we give you that additional two weeks is because it can really take a month and half to acclimate to the new, restored sound from hearing aids and to get used to manipulating them.
That being said, let’s address these two types of acclimation; acclimation to sound and acclimating to the physical manipulation and day-to-day use of your hearing aids.
Adjusting to Sound with New Hearing Aids
Typically, when someone loses their hearing, they lose it very gradually. Over the course of years, the nerve cells in your ears wear out and you accumulate more and more hearing loss so your brain gradually gets used to hearing less. When you get hearing aids, all of that sound comes back all at once which can be very overwhelming for a new hearing aid user which is especially true for an older user whose brain isn’t quite so plastic or malleable.
To help you adjust more smoothly, the audiologist can set the hearing aids slightly lower than they’re supposed to be for the first two weeks so the sound isn’t quite so overwhelming. At the first follow-up, your audiologist will likely turn the hearing aids up so you can continue gradually getting used to more and more benefit. You can have multiple follow-up appointments during this 45 day trial period so your audiologist can help you adjust.
The only way to get used to hearing aids and the additional volume is to actually put the hearing aids in your ears and to wear them consistently. We really encourage patients to wear the hearing aids for between 12 and 18 hours a day, everyday, during all waking hours in order to best acclimate.
What patients don’t realize is that every time the audiologist hooks up the hearing aid to the programming computer, they can see how many hours a day the hearing aids have been worn. When a patient remarks that they’re having trouble getting used to their hearing aids and we notice that the hearing aids are only being worn 8 hours a day, we’ll encourage the patient to try wear them the entire day even if they’re just reading the paper and nobody else is home with them.
Manipulating New Hearing Aids
In addition to wearing and using your hearing aids during all waking hours, the other aspect of acclimation is getting used to the physical manipulation of hearing aids. When a patient first gets their initial set of hearing aids, it can be intimidating putting them in their ears. Patients tend to think that hearing aids are more delicate than they really are so they’re a little nervous about handling them. And as a new user, putting them into their ears in the office, in front of an audiologist, can feel awkward and stressful, especially if an adult child or spouse is with them at that initial appointment. For this reason, I often spend time during the initial hearing aid fitting making sure that my patients understand how to insert the hearing aids and change the batteries.
I also ask that my patients practice at home every day during that first 2-week period by laying a towel out on the kitchen table; practicing putting the hearing aids in and taking them out, changing the batteries or using the charger, so that at the first follow-up visit, if there’s an issue with the physical use of the hearing aids, we can address that and come up with a solution. Of course, if the patient hasn’t taken the opportunity to practice using the hearing aids, then it will be hard to know where the problems lie and where there may just be areas that require more practice.
The acclimation is a give and take between the audiologist and the patient and the audiologist can only make adjustments when the patient consistently uses the hearing aids; otherwise, it’s guesswork figuring out what the patient needs without that concrete feedback. And because listening environments are unique to each person, the acoustics of your house, the types of people that you speak with, the sounds of their voices, it really does depend to some extent on the individual’s experience which we take a lot of time discussing.
By wearing the hearing aids consistently and consistently practicing physically manipulating them over the first two to three weeks, this ensures that at the first follow-up appointment, you can provide really concrete feedback to your audiologist so they can make meaningful adjustments to the hearing aids. This will help continue on the process of getting used to new hearing aids and making the best use of this new technology.
At Advanced Specialty Care, my fellow audiologists and I are committed to guiding our patients through the acclimation process to make sure that we’re maximizing the benefit of the hearing aids and ensuring that our patients are doing the very best they can with their new hearing instruments. To schedule an appointment with any of the experienced clinical audiologists at Advanced Specialty Care’s Danbury,New Milford,Ridgefield or Norwalk offices, please call (203) 830-4700 or click here to fill out an appointment request form.
– Jocelyn Doré, Au.D.
Dr. Jocelyn Doré is a board-certified Audiologist treating adult & pediatric patients in our Danbury & New Milford offices. Jocelyn has been an Audiologist at Advanced Specialty Care for 18 years. She enjoys interacting with the community and has a genuine fascination with hearing aid technology and its evolution throughout the 20 years she’s been fitting hearing aids. As a long-time resident of Danbury, she values the time spent getting to know her patients and their families, and she prides herself on her ability to test young children in such a way that they don’t realize it’s a test. Outside of the office, Jocelyn enjoys quilting, reading and spending time outside with her husband and two children. You can find Jocelyn in our Danbury and New Milford offices. Otherwise, find her out visiting family on Cape Cod.