Your hearing healthcare provider recommended hearing aids as a part of the treatment plan for your hearing loss. After a discussion to determine your hearing needs and what options were available, hearing aids and possibly accessories were selected that will best meet your needs. If this is your first hearing aid you may not know what to expect from this fitting appointment.
What to expect
It is normal to have a mix of emotions ranging from anxiousness to excitement at the prospect of improved hearing. The focus at the fitting appointment is ensuring that your hearing aids fit comfortably, the sound is appropriate to your hearing loss and needs, and that you understand how to use them.
Your hearing healthcare provider will work with you to strike a good balance between imparting important information regarding the use and care of your hearing aids and not overwhelming you.
It is often helpful to have a family member or friend with you at your hearing aid fitting appointment to help remember the information presented and provide support. It is also good to have a familiar voice to listen to when you first have the hearing aids fit. Don't worry though – your hearing healthcare provider will be happy to review any information and answer any questions at this or follow-up appointments.
Getting the sound right
Your hearing aids are sophisticated computers. They need to be programmed to the prescription targets that are based upon your hearing loss. Your hearing healthcare provider will connect the hearing aids to their computer and use specialized software to make changes to the hearing aids. They will verify that the hearing aids are set appropriately using a real-ear system. This will involve either measuring the sound from the hearing aids while they are in your ears or by simulating the response in a test box. Then they may fine-tune the sound you hear based on your initial reactions.
It takes a while to get used to hearing better. You will notice that your own voice sounds a little different. Other people's voices should sound clearer. You will notice all the little sounds that surround us every day that you may have forgotten about. Sounds including a ticking clock, a blowing fan and the birds chirping outside. With regular use of your hearing aids, these sounds will once again seem normal.
However, it is important to communicate any concerns you have with your hearing healthcare provider. There are many settings within the hearing aid that can be adjusted to improve your listening experiences. Everyone's experience of their hearing is unique to them.
While it is important to understand that hearing aids cannot heal the damaged organ of hearing and therefore cannot provide perfect hearing, they are amazing and flexible devices. Your hearing healthcare provider can work with you to ensure you have the best outcome with them and can again enjoy the sounds and conversations around you.
Your hearing aid experience is as unique as you are.
Care and use
In addition to checking that the hearing aids fit well in your ears and that the sound is beneficial to you, you will receive education on how the hearing aids work and how to care for them. Typical information covered includes:
- How to correctly put the hearing aids into your ears and remove them again. Good insertion ensures that you get all the sound you should be hearing, that the hearing aids are comfortable when worn, and that the aids are unlikely to fall out of your ears and be lost.
- When and how to change the battery or charge the battery (if your hearing aids are using a rechargeable battery). The hearing aids will often warn you when the battery is getting low. Also, hearing aids stop working when the battery level gets low enough to signify that the performance of the hearing aids is being affected – not when there is no more power left in the battery.
- When and how to change the wax guards, if your hearing aids have one. Wax guards stop earwax (a healthy substance produced in the ear) from getting into the electronics of the hearing aids and causing damage. They act like a small trap and will occasionally need to be replaced. If they get too full, sound cannot get through and you will notice you are not hearing well with the hearing aids.
- How to clean the hearing aids and any earpieces that come with them.
- How to adjust the hearing aids and learn how to use any accessories or a remote control that come with them. Your hearing aids can be made fully automatic or you can have the option to manually adjust them. This can include changing the volume, changing the programs, and connecting to cell phones, televisions and computers.
- Where to store the hearing aids and the batteries when not in use. It is important to keep hearing aids and batteries away from hot and humid temperatures, pets and small children.
- What to do if the hearing aid gets wet. Most hearing aids have a water-resistant coating, but generally don't do well if submerged in water. If you accidentally wear them in the shower or notice a lot of perspiration around your ears and hearing aids, there are ways to help dry them out.
- The manufacturer's warranty period and any loss and damage coverage that may be provided with them.
- The process for scheduling future visits with your hearing healthcare provider and what to do if questions or concerns arise.
What happens next
The hearing aid fitting appointment shouldn't be your last visit with your hearing healthcare provider. The sounds you hear in the office is not the best test of how you benefit from the hearing aids. The situations and people you had difficulty hearing before you had them fit are the true test. Most providers will want to see you a few weeks after you have had your hearing aids fitted to discuss your experiences with the aids outside the clinic. Have they addressed your hearing needs? Were they comfortably worn for longer periods of time? Remember, there are many adjustments that can be made to the hearing aids and the sound you get from them. There are also assistive listening devices or accessories that can be used with the hearing aids.
Your hearing healthcare provider can provide counselling on all aspects of your hearing, your hearing aids, and most importantly any communication challenges you or your loved ones may be having due to your hearing loss. You should also have your hearing loss monitored, annual testing is recommended to keep track of this. Your hearing aids will need adjustments if your hearing loss changes over time or as you get used to hearing from the hearing aids and find you need them fine-tuned further.
Your hearing care professional will take the time to understand your specific needs and customize a plan that will get you the best results. Find a hearing healthcare professional near you to guide you through the process.