Many first-time hearing aid wearers expect their hearing to be restored to “normal”, but that is rarely the case. Realistically, hearing aids will improve your hearing and listening abilities by modifying the sounds around you. Although hearing aid technology has made tremendous advances in the last few years, nothing on the market today can reproduce perfect or “normal” hearing.
Keep in mind that hearing isn’t just about volume; it’s about your ear’s ability to hear sounds and your brain’s ability to process and comprehend those sounds. One of the biggest challenges for those suffering from hearing loss is to differentiate between voice patterns and background noise. Those afflicted with hearing loss can lose the ability to distinguish between the voices and background noise, making comprehension impossible.
How Digital Hearing Aids Work
Most modern hearing aids use Digital Signal Processing (DSP). These digital hearing aids help the user differentiate between speech and background noise by identifying and lowering the volume of background noise so the listener can hear voice patterns more clearly. The better the technology in the hearing aid, the more secondary noise is filtered out.
Of course, no hearing aid can eliminate all background noise – nor would you want it to – but DSP helps the listener to distinguish between speech and non-speech sounds. This helps keep you engaged in and attuned to conversations, even in noisy situations. Those who have switched to digital hearing aids report that background noise seems to fade and voice recognition is better than when they are not wearing hearing aids.
Learning to Hear Again
As hearing loss usually occurs over time, many people are unaware of all the background sounds they can no longer hear. When you first start wearing hearing aids, you may feel overwhelmed by what you can suddenly hear again.
Don’t get frustrated. It will take time to adjust. Some hearing health providers suggest wearing the hearing aids only a few hours a day for a few weeks to help you get accustomed the increase in auditory input.
As the brain “re-learns” to interpret sounds correctly again, you should practice concentrating sounds or voices most important to you. During the initial adjustment period, you may be asked to visit your hearing specialist’s office several times so they can monitor your progress and adjust the controls of your hearing aid(s), as needed. These follow-up visits are crucial to your success with amplification.
Treat Hearing Loss Early
Even the most advanced DSP won’t be helpful if hearing loss is too severe. Early intervention “trains” your ears when they are most able to relearn, preventing further hearing loss and cognitive difficulties. However, if you delay getting hearing aids too long, even the best digital hearing aids will be unable to compensate for the damage.