By Dr. Robert Mario
Hearing aids take time and patience to use successfully. Know your hearing aid’s features. With your hearing specialist, practice putting in and taking out the aid, cleaning it, identifying right and left aids, and replacing the batteries. Ask how to test it in listening environments where you have problems. Adjust the aid’s volume and program it for sounds that are too loud or too soft. You may experience some of the following problems as you wear your new aid:
•Yours feels uncomfortable at first — Many people will wear a new aid in increasing amounts of time the first couple of days. If the aid/mold is uncomfortable, then modifications can be performed.
•Your voice sounds too loud —The plugged-up sensation causing a hearing aid user’s voice to sound louder inside the head is the occlusion effect, and it is common for new users. People get used to this over time but a programming adjustment can be done.
•You get feedback from your hearing aid — A whistling sound can be caused by a hearing aid that does not fit or work well or is clogged by earwax or fluid. Many digital hearing instruments have feedback managers that can be utilized to minimize feedback.
•You hear background noise — A hearing aid does not completely separate the sounds you want to hear from the ones you do not want to hear. Many aids have different strengths of noise suppression systems that can be adjusted.
•You hear a buzzing sound when you use your cell phone — Some people experience problems with the radio frequency interference caused by digital cell phones. Hearing aids and cell phones are improving on this. When you are being fitted, bring your cell phone to make sure it works well with the aid. Some hearing aids with manual override capability can have a special phone program placed into the device for the telephone. New digital technology hearing instruments are compatible with Bluetooth wireless technology.
Proper maintenance and care will extend the life of your hearing aid. Make it a habit to:
•Keep hearing aids away from heat and moisture.
•Clean hearing aids as instructed. Earwax and ear drainage can damage a hearing aid.
•Avoid using hairspray or other hair care products while wearing hearing aids.
•Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use.
•Replace dead batteries immediately.
•Keep replacement batteries and small hearing aids away from children and pets.
•Use drying systems as needed to keep moisture build at a minimum.
Dr. Robert Mario, PhD, BC-HIS, is the director of Mario Hearing and Tinnitus Clinics, with locations in West Roxbury, Cambridge and Melrose. He can be reached at 781-979-0800 or visit their website, www.mariohearingclinics.com. Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com