How to get the best hearing aid
Getting used to hearing aids
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Getting used to hearing aids
Have you recently had a hearing aid fitted? Here, Which? and Action on Hearing Loss give advice on using and maintaining your hearing aids
When you first get your hearing aids, you should be shown how to put them in without mixing up the left and right aids, how to use the controls and how to handle and change the batteries.
Hearing aid maintenance should be explained, as well as what your aids can and can’t do. Plus, you should be told how to get used to them - which may involve a schedule for wearing them.
The sheer amount of information you're given can be daunting, and you may require more than one session to get to know your way around the hearing aid.
At your follow-up appointment, the audiologist will check that the aid and/or earmoulds fit properly and comfortably, check that the aids are improving your life, and make any necessary adjustments while you wait.
Are you still deciding whether to buy hearing aids privately or get them from the NHS? Find out what Which? members thought about private providers vs the NHS.
Getting used to your hearing aids
It usually takes people about a month to adjust to wearing hearing aids. Without you realising it, your brain will have adapted to your hearing loss, so everything can initially sound loud and strange. You should wear the hearing aids as regularly as possible to adjust.
Getting to grips with the handling of the hearing aids, such as changing the batteries and inserting the aids into your ear, can also take some time.
You may also need to revisit the audiologist a few times before your aids are perfectly fitted and programmed - don’t be embarrassed or frustrated by this; it’s normal. We have advice on dealing with the most common hearing aid problems.
Follow-up hearing appointments
You should have a follow-up appointment between four and 12 weeks after getting your hearing aids, so you can talk about any problems and doubts.
It’s not unusual to have problems - for example, an uncomfortable earmould that needs adjusting, or changes needed to the device’s settings. But do get them sorted out rather than giving up on your aids.
Hearing aid maintenance
You should be shown how to clean and store your hearing aids, and how to keep them free from wax. You should also have precautions explained, such as not getting them wet.
With an NHS hearing aid, you’re given a booklet or a card that you need to keep. It proves that you have NHS aids and can go to the audiology department to get free batteries and repairs. Your audiology centre may have a drop-in clinic - you can arrange an appointment if it doesn't.
If you lose or damage your hearing aid, you may be asked to pay towards repairing or replacing it. We’ve heard about people being asked to pay for another pair when they’ve lost just one aid.
If you bought your hearing aids privately, unless it’s written in the contract that batteries are included, you’ll need to buy replacements, which typically cost between £25 and £40 per year per aid if you wear them all day. Repairs to the hearing aid can cost £100 or more.
Get further hearing support
Simply acknowledging that you have hearing loss and need hearing aids is often a daunting step. Once you've got your hearing aids, you may feel like you'd like a bit of extra support, or just to meet others who also have hearing loss.
Ask your audiologist about local support groups and tinnitus clinics. For example, there may be a local hard-of-hearing or deaf group you can join. Sharing experiences and suggestions can be helpful.
There may also be a volunteer visiting service in your area, such as Action on Hearing Loss's Hear to Help Service. Support from someone else can help you keep trying with your hearing aids.
Think about lip-reading classes, too: you'll be able to learn tips for lip-reading and to practise with people with hearing loss, and also give and receive support with others in your situation.
Talk to your friends and family about your hearing loss, and remind them to make an effort to talk clearly to you. Action on Hearing Loss has a communication tips card available from its freephone helpline: 0808 808 0123.