Middle aged woman meeting friends around table, wearing her best online hearing aid.

What to Expect When You Get Your Hearing Aids

Your experience with hearing aids will change with time. A hearing aid will help improve the audibility of sound and intelligibility of sounds but it also has limitations.

When you first get your hearing aids it’s difficult to know what to expect from them. A hearing loss does not just cause sounds at different pitches to seem quieter but also affects your ability to hear the smallest differences between two sounds that appear at the same time and to identify these sounds. It also affects the ability to locate where sounds are coming from.

A hearing aid will help improve the audibility of sound. It will try to improve the intelligibility of speech. A hearing aid makes it easier to identify the differences between sounds and it also helps us identify the direction of where sounds are coming from. However, a hearing aid does have limitations. A hearing aid cannot repair the damage to the hearing system. While a hearing aid is intended to make conversations effortless and overcome the problems associated with a hearing loss, one may continue to experience some difficulties, even when wearing hearing aids because of the specific damage to their hearing system. 

It is important to understand that your experience with your hearing aids will change over time. Focus on your experiences where the hearing aids have improved your hearing. Try to keep realistic expectations of how your hearing will change when you first start wearing your hearing aids.

Adjusting to amplification takes time and practice

You can take your time to get used to the hearing aid, but you have to wear it at least every day, even for short periods, to acclimate yourself to environmental sounds. It is usually quicker and less distracting if you wear the hearing aids at home at first, even when you are alone. Most users start to wear their hearing aids all day, every day, within the first 45 days of getting their hearing aids, but some take longer to get used to them. It is important to persist and wear your hearing aids as much as is possible every day. 

Your brain will relearn how to sort and filter new sounds

Your brain needs to get used to the sound of the hearing aids. Over time, you have gotten used to not hearing certain sounds due to your hearing loss and that became “normal” for you. If you wear your hearing aids less than 50% of the time, then your brain will accept your uncorrected hearing as “normal” and your corrected hearing as amplified. This makes it more difficult to get used to the sound of the hearing aid. You have to wear a hearing aid at least 8 or more hours per day for the brain to start perceiving the uncorrected hearing as dull or muffled and the corrected hearing as “normal”.

Hearing background noise is normal

The hearing aid will amplify sounds that you have not heard clearly for some time.  This will make you more aware of all the sounds around you. Our everyday lives generate a lot of sounds and we perceive these sounds as background noise.  Your brain needs time to filter out which sounds are important, like speech sounds, against the background noise. Remember, even people with normal hearing struggle to hear in noisy environments.

Your own voice will sound different

Your own voice may sound loud and unnatural to you at first. Some wearers report that their voice sounds like they are “in a barrel” or “that they have a head cold” when they first start to wear their hearing aids.  You will adjust to the sound of your own voice over time. Your hearing aids will also help you monitor the volume of your own voice. Individuals with hearing loss sometimes talk loudly in order to hear their own voices and do not realize they are doing so.

Mechanical sounds in the hearing aids

Your hearing aid is a battery-operated electronic device that will amplify the soft, mostly high-frequency sounds that you have been missing. You may hear the device “work” when it’s in your ear, almost like you may hear the soft sound that a computer makes when it is switched on. Your brain will also need time to be reacquainted with these sounds.

Some environmental sounds may be loud and distracting

In the beginning, you will be very aware of sounds like running water, footsteps, paper crinkling, stirring a drink in a cup or glass, pots and pans, traffic, etc. These are sounds that will be amplified by your hearing aids. This is normal, as these are sounds that you may not have heard clearly for a long time. It is likely that you heard these sounds when your hearing was normal, but that your brain tuned them out. In time, you will learn to ignore these sounds again.

The physical comfort of the hearing aid

Inserting the hearing aid into the ear takes practice and in the beginning, you may experience discomfort while you learn how to insert it. If the hearing aid is continuously inserted incorrectly, the ear may bruise and you might experience some pain. In this case, please stop using your hearing aid so that the bruise can heal and consult the Lexie contact center to help you with advice on inserting the dome and slim tube of the hearing aid correctly. 

You may also experience a sensation of the ear being unusually hot. This tends to happen due to a lot of pushing and prodding of the slim tube and dome in trying to insert it properly. The ear is also being blocked from air coming into the ear and cooling it down. This happens to all hearing aid users, especially in the beginning. Take the slim tube and dome out occasionally so that the ear can ‘breathe’. Consult the Lexie Contact Centre if it feels like it is getting worse as time goes on. 

The skin in your ear canal might seem to dry out. This is common among hearing aid users. Use a bit of olive or almond oil to coat the dome before you put it in (do NOT block the holes in your dome). This will keep the ear moisturized. When cleaning the slim tube and dome, do not use soap, as that can dry out the ear canal and cause irritation. 

It is very common to have Increased wax production when you wear a hearing aid. The ear sees your slim tube and dome as a foreign body and tries to rid the ear of it. Some people will develop more wax than others.  Please have your ears checked from time to time, as too much wax can affect the working of your hearing aid.

The slim tube and dome may build up condensation. This is due to changes in temperature. Condensation can eventually stop the hearing aid from working. Remove the slim tube from the hearing aid and blow through the tube to get rid of the bubbles or thread a thin wire through the tube. Remember to use your drying capsule, as this will help device longevity.

Listening environments

Lifestyle changes have a great impact on how well you adjust to your hearing aid. The environment you’re in may not always be conducive to better hearing with a hearing aid. So you may have to make some adjustments. Remember, a hearing aid can only amplify the sound it gets. If people stand too far away from you, do not look at you, when there is too much background noise or the room that you are in is very big, then the hearing aid may not be as effective as when you are in more optimal environments. This is because the quantity and quality of the sound that reaches the hearing aid is not enough or of a good quality to amplify.

B. Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and article author

Written byMarcelle Swanepoel

B. Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Want to Stay Informed

Sign up to our newsletter.