Getting started with new hearing aids can sometimes be challenging as your brain will need to learn to hear and process sound again in a whole new way. This takes time, practice, and a little patience. Our team of licensed hearing professionals is an invaluable resource to have to support you when you are learning to use Eargos—either as a first-time hearing aid user or as somebody that has previously used hearing aids.  

When you first receive your Eargos, they’ll help you understand what to expect, provide helpful tips and tricks, answer your questions, and show you how to personalize your Eargos. Then, they’ll be around for as long as you own your Eargos to help with any issues or questions that arise as you become more comfortable wearing them and hearing life to the fullest!

Here’s an example where Heather, one of our many audiologists, worked with John*, a recent customer who needed help with the personalization of his Eargos to his hearing preferences, including for a few specific (and common) situations. She describes how they worked together to meet his listening needs:

(*Client’s name has been changed to protect his privacy)

“John and I have gotten to know each other very well over the past few months as he’s been adjusting to his Eargo hearing aids. He previously wore behind-the-ear style devices but decided to try Eargos because he was having trouble keeping them in his ears—particularly when removing a face mask. Because he’d worn hearing aids in the past, he already had some idea of what to expect regarding overall sound quality and regular maintenance. 

John was hearing a little bit of feedback in the beginning and asked what we could do to help resolve this. I let him know that there are two kinds of feedback: normal and abnormal.  Feedback during insertion/removal, along with feedback that occurs when your hand or an object is covering the microphone, is considered normal. If the feedback is consistent, which it was in this case, it’s more likely an issue with fit, so we discussed proper insertion techniques.  John had not been able to get his Eargos completely inserted into his ear canals, but by adjusting the angle he was then able to position them correctly. 

Proper insertion reduces abnormal feedback

Once this issue was resolved, we discussed his overall hearing goals. John’s primary focus was on hearing the television better and being able to hear better in noisy environments. We spoke about realistic expectations for these listening situations, how his Eargos could help, and what challenges could be expected.

With the television, I explained that there are no universal standards for sound quality.  Different television shows, movies, advertisements, and even channels will have vastly different challenges and outcomes. That’s because speech, music, and sound effects are being presented at the same time and through the same sound source, so it is easy to miss things— even without hearing loss. I often recommend closed captions for the television, even with hearing aids, to help your brain “see” what it’s hearing. Having these visual cues in addition to auditory cues is very helpful when adjusting to new hearing aids.

Regarding listening in noisy environments, I advised John that this is often the last situation to improve (in my experience). When adjusting to hearing aids, your brain will need to learn to hear sound again, and once it does it needs to learn to process that sound, picking up what you need to hear and filtering out the things you don’t need to hear. This process is called adaptation and will take both time and practice. It also helps to control your environment as much as possible. For example, if you’re going out to a restaurant, try to go either before or after the dinner rush and ask for a quiet table. Sitting at a table next to a wall or sitting in a booth is also helpful as it helps limit the amount of incoming sound. 

Keep in mind, though, that even people without hearing loss can struggle in restaurants, large crowds, when listening to live music, and in situations with poor acoustics. With Eargos, we can exert some control over these environments by creating custom audio profiles based on your hearing preferences. For John, I suggested trying a Restaurant Program for hearing speech better while eating out, a Crowd Program for limiting the amount of incoming noise, and a TV Program to help make hearing speech while watching the television easier. He was very interested in making these adjustments, which we did at his follow-up appointment (after he’d taken time to adapt to the hearing aids and establish a “baseline” setting for the custom profiles).

Adjust sound preferences via the Eargo app

Profile adjustments can be done by the person wearing the hearing aids through the mobile app, but it can be very helpful to speak to one of our licensed hearing professionals before adjusting the profiles. It can take a little time to get everything just right, but working with us can make this process easier. In John’s case, several adjustments had to be made before he was completely satisfied with his settings, but we got there!

This provided a great opportunity for a conversation about what to expect with any hearing aids, and why some people adjust more quickly than others. In short, two people with the exact same hearing loss (on paper) can still process sound very differently.  What works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa.  Having a good support system in place and realistic expectations for what hearing aids can and can’t do is a great place to start. You need to be mentally prepared because although some people can put a hearing aid on and immediately hear better, it is more common for it to take weeks or months of consistent use to fully adjust to wearing hearing aids.

A good way to think about adjusting to hearing aids is that it’s like going through physical therapy after an injury—you’re retraining the brain to hear again. Everyone will go at a different pace, and you are simply looking for improvement when you start this process, not perfection. Some people require a little more help or time than others, and that’s ok!  It’s important to be as specific as possible when describing your goals and situations that are still difficult for you to hear in when speaking to your licensed hearing professional.  We may not be able to find a perfect setting for every situation, but we can discuss what to expect, and suggest some things you can try (beyond profile adjustments to your hearing aids) to make those situations a bit easier.”We’ve since discussed a few additional minor profile adjustments, as well as long-term maintenance, but John has now adjusted well to his Eargos and he knows he can reach out to us for assistance through the mobile app, by email, or by giving us a call. We’ll be here and happy to help—with lifetime support, at no additional cost!

Author

Dr. Heather Andrews graduated from East Tennessee State University in 2016. She received most of her clinical training at the VA Hospital in Mountain Home, TN, but has since worked in a variety of settings, performing vestibular evaluations, hearing evaluations, and hearing aid fittings. She has worked with most major hearing aid manufacturers and has been with Eargo for over 3 years now. Her favorite thing about working with Eargo is getting to speak to people all over the country and hear their stories.

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