Hearing loss is a common problem among Americans. According to the latest data, about 30 million citizens are affected by it. Many of them use hearing aids to regain their lost hearing. And this is the right decision!
However, at Audiology Island we are often faced with situations where patients misuse their devices. As a result, their effectiveness is significantly reduced and people continue to experience difficulties. Sometimes they stop using hearing aids altogether, becoming disillusioned with these irreplaceable devices. These patients often ask us the question: “How many hours should I wear my hearing aids?” Our answer: “All day!” And here’s the reason why.
Why should you wear hearing aids all day long?
Our extensive experience with hearing aids shows that many Americans use their devices on a “when I need it, then I use it” principle. They wear hearing aids at work, walking, traveling, etc. Simply put, in those situations where there is a need to perfectly hear external sounds. At the same time, when this is not necessary, for example, at home, the devices are put aside on a bedside table or shelf. This is the wrong decision.
Our brain is an amazing structure that tries to quickly adapt to the changes occurring around us, including hearing loss/restoration. It is important to understand that with hearing loss, it may “forget” how to hear certain sounds and words. The so-called auditory deprivation arises. However, when you start using hearing aids, the brain begins to gradually recover the lost functions. It will learn to process sounds and filter out noise. And the sound of your voice will become familiar. It won’t be long before the use of devices will become commonplace.
However, this takes practice and time. This is why an adaptation period is needed. You should learn to use your hearing aids more often and take the time to wear them. We will talk about this in more detail below.
Once you have fully adapted and the brain is fully functional, you should wear hearing aids most of the day. If this is not the case, the brain will not be able to properly adjust the work of its structures responsible for the perception of external sounds. This means that even the right devices cannot reach their full potential. As a result, you might hear poorly, and the impression from the devices will become sharply negative. This is one of the reasons why Americans refuse to wear devices.
How to use hearing aids correctly? After a period of adaptation and customization, you should wear them all day, taking them off only in the following cases:
The rest of the time, even if you are alone at home, the devices should be on you. Only then, will you forget about your hearing problems and be able to enjoy life to the fullest!
How to get used to the first hearing aids?
It is very important to choose the right devices. You may purchase them from the hearing aids store. And the audiologist will customize them correctly to suit your individual needs.
The level of hearing loss can be different for each person. Therefore, the choice of hearing aid requires an individual approach with appropriate testing and diagnosis
As I wrote above, after being fit with your first hearing aids, you must go through an adaptation period when using them. In the early days, you may feel overwhelmed by sounds that you haven’t heard for a while.
Our leading audiologist, Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro has put together a few guidelines to follow to help you cope with sound overload in the early days.
Give yourself some time to get used to it
At first, it will seem to you that the world around you is too noisy. This is normal. Sounds that people usually do not notice will be too loud for you – the ticking of the clock, the noise of the refrigerator, water in the water pipes, the conversations of neighbors behind the wall, street sounds outside the window. After a while, your brain will again learn to ignore background sounds, and you will stop paying attention to them.
The first place of use is at home
At home, the atmosphere is calmer and quieter. Speak out your actions, read aloud, talk to your pets. All this will help you get used to the new sound of your voice.
Increase the wearing time gradually
From the start, you won’t be able to wear hearing aids all day. You need to get used to this gradually. You may start with 2-3 hours, gradually increasing the wearing time by 1 hour every next day. First, use the device at home, and then go out with it for a walk, to the store, on business, etc. Feel the difference in sounds and get used to it.
Practice recognizing sound sources
Try to train your hearing. Pay attention, identify and respond to microwave, washing machine signals, gadget push notifications, alarm sounds, phone, and intercom sounds.
Make additional adjustments to your hearing aids
The audiologist performs the initial fitting of the hearing aids at the fitting appointment. As you wear it and get used to it, you need to additionally reprogram the hearing aids to achieve the optimal sound. We recommend visiting our clinic in one to two weeks after you start wearing your devices. You have to adapt to new sensations, and this takes time.
Remember, on the road to normal hearing, you are required to maintain your rhythm. Success depends on your efforts and the time you spend using your devices.
What benefits can I get by wearing hearing aids all day long?
As I wrote earlier, auditory deprivation is a serious problem that significantly reduces the effectiveness of hearing aids. Many parts of the brain work on a use it-or-lose it basis. Therefore, if you stop halfway and stop using your hearing aids, it will weaken your ability to process sound signals. You have to feed the auditory system of the brain with sound. Otherwise, your hearing system might atrophy. How can you avoid this? You should use your hearing aids “full-time”.
The main advantage of frequent use of hearing aids is the ability to better adapt to the sound. You are used to hearing gradually weakening over the years. Therefore, some sounds may seem unpleasant to you at first. Wearing hearing aids all day brings back the joy of sounds such as birds singing, footsteps, or raindrops. The music will sound better. And you will begin to recognize your voice.
Using hearing aids full-time is also beneficial for the elderly. A variety of ways to stimulate the brain improves mental health. Many older people are reluctant to use hearing aids and believe that their hearing is normal. As hearing decreases, certain parts of the brain begin to function worse. When using hearing aids, brain activity is stimulated and maintained. It improves the ability of older people to communicate and interact with the outside world. It also helps prevent the development of dementia.
Hearing aids are essential helpers for millions of Americans. However, as with any sophisticated technology device, you must use it correctly and wear it all day. Your life will be filled with beautiful sounds and voices of your loved ones, making every day bright and happy!
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]