Wearing hearing aids is the first step towards better hearing. There is no doubt that, with practice, they will make a real difference to your quality of life. Please take the time to read this guide, as it will help you get the most out of your new hearing aids. It will prepare you for what you will be taught as you move forward in the dispensing process, as well as provide extra information about how to use and maintain your aids. It will also give you strategies that will make it easier to understand what other people are saying.
How a hearing aid can help
What you can expect
Hearing aids cannot give you perfect hearing, but they will help you in a variety of different situations, ranging from watching television to being able to follow what people are saying, so that conversation becomes much easier and more relaxed.
Risks of Untreated Hearing Loss
Regardless of age, type of hearing loss, or cause, if left untreated or undetected hearing loss can have negative effects on your well-being. Untreated hearing loss can lead to considerable negative, social, psychological, cognitive, and health effects and can seriously impact professional and personal life, at times leading to isolation and depression.
Here are some other ways hearing loss can affect your overall health:
Falls: Our ears play an important and large role in our balance. One study that found that even a mild hearing loss means you are “three times more likely to fall.” The older someone is the more dangerous these falls can be.
Cognitive Function: Those with mild hearing impairment are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia compared with those with typical hearing. The risk increases threefold for those with moderate hearing loss, and five-fold for those with severe impairment. The connection isn’t yet completely clear, but some researchers believe it may result from those with hearing loss straining to decode sounds, increasing the brain’s cognitive load.
From 2001-2007, a study tested the hearing and cognitive abilities of nearly 2,000 adults between ages 75-84. Those with hearing loss lost cognitive abilities up to 40% more quickly than typical-hearing participants. Additionally, participants with hearing loss developed cognitive issues on average three years sooner than those with typical hearing. The decline of cognitive ability impairs other brain functions, such as thinking and memory retention.
Heart Health: Six decades of research suggests a link between our cardiovascular and hearing health. Raymond Hull, Ph.D., who analyzed 70 scientific studies, believes, “Our entire auditory system, especially the blood vessels of the inner ear, needs an oxygen-rich nutrient supply. If it doesn’t get it due to cardiovascular health problems, then hearing can be affected.” Cardiovascular disease appears to exaggerate the impact of those causes and intensify the degree of hearing decline. This compounded effect not only increases the difficulty a person experiences in perceiving what has been said, but also diminishes their ability to make sense of what they hear with speed and accuracy.
In 2009 David R. Friedland, M.D., found that audiogram pattern correlates strongly with arterial disease, even acting as a heart-health test for those at risk. His study concluded that patients with low-frequency hearing loss may have a greater likelihood of cardiovascular events.
A 2014 study found that the risk of hearing impairment was significantly greater in people with underlying atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, than in those without blood vessel abnormalities, suggesting that hearing loss may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease in outwardly healthy people.
Diabetes: The National Institutes of Health found that hearing loss is twice as common among people with diabetes compared with those who do not have the disease. Also, of the 79 million adults thought to have pre-diabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30% higher than in those with normal blood sugar levels.
Research suggests that diabetes may lead to hearing loss by damaging the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear, which has also been shown in autopsies of patients with diabetes.
Get used to the hearing aid
Please wear your hearing aids all day, except for:
- while showering
- while swimming
- when hearing protection is required
- while sleeping
You need to take time to get used to wearing a hearing aid and become accustomed to the sound of it. When you first start wearing hearing aids, the world around you may seem very noisy. You will hear sounds (water running, leaves rustling, paper shuffling) you have not heard at the proper volume for many years. Initially these sounds will be distracting, but over time your brain will learn to identify the important from the unimportant sounds and they will become less distracting.
Your hearing may seem 'dull' when you take your aid off, but that is just because you have become used to hearing much better with it. Using a hearing aid won't make your hearing worse.
Practice inserting and removing your ear piece. This may seem awkward at first, but will become easier with perseverance. Some people find their own voices sound different. They indicate there is a hollowness to it. This is called the barrel effect. This also passes with extended wear.
Talking on the landline telephone could be challenging. It will feel awkward as you experiment proper receiver placement. Talking on the cell phone is less challenging if your hearing aids are Bluetooth compatible. The signal will be streamed to both aids which allow you to hear the call in both ears, which allows for greater understanding.
While your hearing aid offers you the best available technology, programmed to your specific needs, it cannot restore normal hearing.
How to tell the right hearing aid from the left
The hearing aid for your right ear has a red mark. The hearing aid for your left ear has a blue mark.
Putting on the hearing aid
- Place the hearing aid behind the ear. The hearing aid should rest comfortably on the ear, close to your head.
- Work the earpiece into your ear up to where the wire bends (elbow)
Removing the hearing aid
Remove the hearing aid from behind the ear. Carefully pull until the earpiece is removed from your ear.
Hearing Aid Cheat Sheet
RED – RIGHT HEARING AID
BLUE – LEFT HEARING AID
Daily – Wipe off the ear piece with an alcohol prep pad
Once a Month – Change the hearing aid wax guard
Every 3 Months – Change the hearing aid ear piece /dome
RECHARGEABLE HEARING AIDS : Daily – Place in charger each night
NON RECHARGEABLE HEARING AIDS: Weekly – Change batteries (If one hearing aid alerts you to change the battery then change both of the hearing aid batteries.)
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