If you have recently taken a hearing test and been deemed a good candidate for hearing aids, you might be considering the possibilities. Your hearing aid journey should be one with a promising destination: improved hearing and better quality of life. However, before you can begin reaping the benefits of hearing aids, you have to find help for your hearing loss and begin the fitting process.
Selecting, fitting, and adjusting to your hearing aids are the three major steps you will take in getting fitted. Once you're happy with the adjustments, you can begin living your life how you please. A trustworthy hearing care provider will work with you to determine your needs and give you valuable advice on what to do next. That being said, here's what you need to know about hearing aid fitting, and what you should expect from the process.
How to Select A Hearing Aid
The first step to choosing a hearing aid is assessing your needs and figuring out what you want from your experience. An in-depth meeting can give you an opportunity to voice your opinions on the situation. Different factors can affect your hearing aid selection, including:
- Hearing test results. The severity of your hearing loss determines what options are available to you, so be sure to discuss your audiogram results with your hearing care professional (HCP). For example, people with profound hearing loss might not be compatible with certain models designed for mild or moderate hearing loss. Your HCP will explain what models will give you the best results.
- Preferences. If you have a preference for a certain type of hearing aid, you can discuss that with your HCP and explore the possibilities. As mentioned above, not everyone is compatible with every type of hearing aid, but your desired shape might be in your list of options. Make sure to ask if you have a certain hearing aid in mind.
- Lifestyle. If you lead an active and social lifestyle, you might desire a hearing aid that can keep up with you. On the other hand, those that don't need extra accessories and features might opt for a simpler hearing aid. Be sure to bring up your lifestyle, expectations, and hopes for your new hearing aid.
- Previous experiences. If you've used hearing aids before, you might have strong opinions on what you want from your new ones. Added features, better sound, or a new shape/design might be on your wish list. Talk to your HCP about your experience with hearing aids so far, and how you hope to improve the quality of your hearing.
Once your hearing care provider has the information they need, they can begin compiling a list of hearing aids that might work for you. These suggestions will be tailored to you and your experiences, and hopefully you'll find an option that you can feel enthusiastic about.
How to Fit A Hearing Aid
There's a chance that you will be able to wear a demonstration hearing aid, and this will give you time to try out your new hearing aids. Regardless of whether you go through a trial, the hearing aid fitting begins once you've made your choice. Your HCP will order your hearing aids, and once they've arrived, you can come in for your initial hearing aid programming. (However, if you've ordered a custom-fit in-the-ear hearing aid, there might be an extra visit or longer wait for sizing purposes.)
The programming is an important step in tuning your hearing aid to you. Every person is different, so your HCP will input your preferences and run tests to make sure your base needs are being met. Over the course of the next few months, he might tweak your hearing aids to fine-tune them more accurately, but the initial programming will give you a general idea of what your hearing aids are like.
Questions are welcome during this time, and here are a few you should ask:
"How do I change my battery?"
"How do I clean my hearing aids?"
"How do I adjust the volume?"
"How do I use certain features?"
There's no shame in asking questions, and your HCP is there to make sure you leave their office feeling enthused. When all your questions are answered, you can return home and begin adjusting to your hearing aids.
The Adjustment Process
If this is your first time wearing hearing aids, it might feel overwhelming. Your HCP might recommend establishing a wearing schedule, where you can spend a little time each day getting used to new sounds. The part of your brain that handles hearing is not used to processing sound, so the hearing restoration process can take time. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months to completely adjust to your first hearing aid. Wearing your hearing aids every day will help speed up this process, so make sure to stay loyal to your wearing schedule!
Stay in contact with your HCP, whether it's through email or programs like the Signia app. They might assign "homework" to make sure that you're adjusting properly. These assignments might involve:
- Wear your hearing aids in your home. Try wearing them in calm situations first, and then begin exposing yourself to new sounds.
- Listen to audiobooks, lyrical music, or radio shows. Can you understand speech clearly?
- Wear your hearing aids outside. Focus on listening to nature at first, and then try walking around the block. Don't feel discouraged if background noise like traffic is overwhelming. It can be loud for people without hearing loss, too.
- Slowly ramp up the amount of time you spend wearing your hearing aids. If done gradually, this should be entirely painless.
- Focus on locating sounds with your eyes closed. You should be able to identify if the source is behind you, in front of you, or to your left or right.
Your follow-up visits and conversations with your HCP will help you fine-tune your experience, adjust the physical fit of your hearing aids, and get advice for challenging situations. If you don't have a reliable hearing care professional on your side, or feel unhappy with your current one, try switching to a new HCP before beginning the fitting process.
Using the Signia Store Locator, you can find professionals in your area, along with their contact information. You should feel comfortable and confident talking to your HCP, so don't settle for less.