ADJUSTING TO HEARING AIDS
With prolonged hearing loss the brain is deprived of stimulation and ‘forgets’ how to recognise the sounds it no longer hears. A hearing aid can reintroduce these sounds, however it takes time for the brain to relearn how to make sense of this information. This process is called acclimatisation and it varies from person to person. How quickly you adjust to the hearing aids will depend on the environment (e.g. quiet conversation will be easier to hear than a group conversation at a noisy restaurant), but can take up to six months for some people.
The acclimatisation process is like learning to play an instrument. You should start with the basics (listening in quiet) before trying to master your favourite song (listening at your favourite restaurant). To help this process, it is important that you practice. Wear your hearing aids consistently, even in situations where you may not think you need them (e.g. on your own around the house). Even in these situations, your auditory pathways are being stimulated and the brain is reorganising itself to recognise sounds.
Initially most people find that, with hearing aids, background noise is quite intrusive. You might be hyper-alert to sounds which you haven’t heard correctly in a while (e.g. water in the sink, cutlery on the plate, traffic outside). By listening to those sounds with your hearing aids the brain will begin to identify, and filter out, those sounds which are a part of your everyday environment. This is very similar to how someone who moves to a house near a busy road learns to filter out the road noise.
To help you get used to the new sounds, we may set the hearing aids at a level that is softer than your recommended prescription. Over time, depending on your unique experience, the hearing aids may be gradually moved closer to their target. For some people this will happen quickly, while for others they will never quite reach their recommended target.