How long does it take to get used to hearing aids? Most new users should anticipate a month to a month and a half, but every experience is unique.
The big picture: Hearing aids don't instantly improve your hearing.
- Your brain must adapt to the new sound it receives, which takes roughly 30-45 days.
- During this initial adaptation, patience and working closely with your audiologist are indispensable.
Adapting two ways
It's helpful to anticipate two adaptations: your brain adjusting to the new sound and to physically handling your hearing aids.
Adapting to more sound: Typically, hearing loss is a gradual process that can take many years. During this slow, step-by-step loss, your brain gradually becomes accustomed to hearing less.
Why it matters: With new hearing aids, there's an instant flood of rich sound reaching your brain. The missing sound is back, not gradually, but all at once. For example, our patients often comment they could hear sounds they hadn't for a very long time, like someone moving paper on a desk. "Surprising" is frequently used to describe this.
- To help patients adjust to more sound, audiologists can lower the volume for a short period to give the brain more time to adapt.
- In subsequent visits during the first month or so, audiologists will progressively increase the volume to optimal levels.
Keys to successful adaptation
Use your hearing aids: You'll benefit the most when you wear them 12-18 hours a day. This gives your brain the sound it needs to effectively adapt, so you benefit the most.
First-time users of hearing aids report a range of observations such as these four.
- I heard lots of new sounds. Actually, they're not new, but sounds that haven't been heard for a long time (clocks ticking, birds chirping, wind).
- Some voices sounded metallic. Higher-frequency sounds (young children, female voices) will be tinnier at first. This is good, however, because hearing in this range provides valuable cues for speech recognition. You'll adjust over several weeks.
- My voice didn't sound like me. What you're hearing is how your voice sounds to others. Your hearing aids capture sound through microphones (input) and send it to your ears through speakers (output).
- Background noise takes time. Prescription hearing aids reduce background noise but can't eliminate it entirely. With repeated exposure to noisy situations, your brain will progressively adapt.
One thing I expected to hear from my interviewees but didn't was feeling hearing aids in their ears. Quite the contrary: They found them comfortable on the first day. Keep in mind that my contacts received coaching from experienced audiologists (all said this was invaluable).
Physically managing hearing aids: At your hearing-aids fitting, your audiologist will show you how to place them in (and out) of your ears. They'll also show you how to change the batteries or use the charger. Ask questions if you're uncertain about a procedure.
Your turn: Practice the following at home for the first couple of weeks.
- Putting your hearing aids into your ears and taking them out. Hearing aids are small but not fragile — you don't have to worry about damaging them when you handle them.
- Changing the batteries or using the charger (our patients rave about this feature).
Participate for maximum benefits
The more your audiologist understands your listening habits, the more they can help you. Wearing hearing aids every day lets you give your audiologist meaningful feedback. Based on this feedback, they can tune them for optimal performance.
Does your hearing need help?
Don't guess. The risk of permanent brain damage is too high. Schedule a free, 15-minute hearing screening with an audiologist.
If you have hearing loss, your audiologist will explain
- How much hearing you've lost
- Whether your hearing needs treatment now or later
- The most effective treatment plan