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Updated: 30 Jun 2021

Getting used to hearing aids

Have you recently had a hearing aid fitted? Here, Which? and RNID give advice on using and maintaining your hearing aids
Which?Editorial team
Baby hearing aid 434575

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 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 ears, 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.

In our 2020 survey of 1,572 Which? members and other adults with hearing aids, the most common problem was the sound not being right eg too much background noise, suggesting adjustments to the hearing aids may be helpful.

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 you need to keep. It proves 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 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 would 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 RNID's Peer Support 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, 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. The RNID has a communication tips card available from its freephone information line: 0808 808 0123.