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Ready to try hearing aids? What to expect, and how to adapt successfully

When hearing aids make plastic bags sound like breaking glass, a hearing specialist can help
Shelagh and Hanan Merrill from Nanaimo Hearing Clinic help new clients adjust to hearing aids. Over time you’ll learn to love the new normal! © 2022 HA Photography

When a new client visits Hanan and Shelagh Merrill at their Nanaimo Hearing Clinic, the first thing they do is offer congratulations.

“It’s a big step! Sometimes cost, stigma or a lack of awareness can hold people back, so we start with congratulations that they’re ready to get started,” Hanan says.

Then it’s time to set expectations. Hearing aids do not fix the ears — they help improve the hearing ability you have left, but they won’t make your hearing perfect and it won’t be improved over night.

“In most cases, hearing loss is something you’ve been living with for months, years or even decades. It’s your normal, even if it’s causing frustration! So when you first try hearing aids it won’t feel normal, but be patient — you’ll build a new normal with time.”

What to expect when you first try hearing aids:

  • Echos
  • Your own voice may sound like it’s on a recording
  • Small sounds may be more noticeable, including your car’s turn signal or your microwave’s beep
  • Sounds may feel unnatural: a running faucet sounds like Niagara Falls, plastic bags sound like breaking glass, the rustle of a jacket sounds like rubbing sandpaper.

“All of these experiences are normal when you begin. As your brain adapts and your hearing practitioner makes adjustments you’ll gradually grow more comfortable with your new way of hearing. You won’t have to live with distracting sounds forever,” Hanan says.

How to build the new normal when wearing hearing aids

  1. Wear your hearing aids as much as possible: “Take breaks when you need to so you don’t get frustrated and throw your hearing aids away, but wear them as often as you can so your brain has time to adapt,” Hanan says. Be patient as you adjust, and take care to avoid tiring situations like noisy restaurants if you’re already overwhelmed. Remove your hearing aids when sleeping and during activities where they may get excessively wet.
  2. Take detailed notes of your experience: “I want to hear the good and the bad, what sounds different, when you were excited and where you’re still frustrated,” Hanan says. “That information helps me make better recommendations for different products, and understand the best adjustments to fine-tune to your way of listening.”

Hearing aids are part of a rehabilitative process that you and your hearing care professional will work on together. Over time, you’ll develop a new normal for your brain’s way of hearing, and enjoy being more connected to the world around you!

Ready to learn more or take a free hearing aid test drive? Find Nanaimo Hearing Clinic at 501-5800 Turner Rd in Cactus Club Plaza. To make an appointment call 250-585-4100 or get in touch online at