Why do I need to hear those sounds anyway?

“I don’t wear my hearing aids when I’m just at home by myself.” 

As an audiology assistant, an important part of my job is calling to check on new hearing aid users after their initial hearing aid fitting. What I’m looking to hear during this conversation is that the hearing aids are comfortable and clear, that you’re successfully getting them into and out of your ears, and that you’re wearing your hearing aids as much as possible to adjust to all the new sounds around you. When I occasionally hear the statement “I haven’t really worn them because I’ve just been home by myself,” I put on my hearing aid educator hat and explain why that harmless act is, in fact, not harmless at all. 

Sometimes it’s in an effort to save batteries, but most of the time, new hearing aid users simply don’t know how beneficial and necessary it is to wear their hearing aids, even in quiet situations. 

Let’s set the scene. You’re at home by yourself. How are you spending your time? Perhaps you’re making your way through the 2019 New York Times best sellers in hardcover fiction. Without your hearing aids, you may not hear the crisp turning of a page, the sound of your fingertip gently brushing across the surface, or the thump of the book as you set it down on a table to go grab a glass of sweet tea. You may not hear the sound of that tea pouring into a glass, or the hum of the refrigerator as you open the door to put the bottle back in place. Birds chirping outside your window, leaves rustling in the warm breeze – all of these sounds will be lost on you. 

“Why do I need to hear those sounds anyway?” you may ask. Just as with taste and touch, sounds, even the subtle sounds we don’t consciously notice, enrich our perception of the world around us. When not wearing your hearing aids, not only are you missing out on the simple pleasures of the environment around you, but you’re also missing out on opportunities to allow your brain to automatically process, recognize, and categorize sounds. Our ears and the auditory nerve are the vehicle we use to send messages to our brain, but our actual understanding of sounds happens in the brain. So, when you have a hearing loss and don’t wear your hearing aids, even in calm situations, you are depriving your brain of important stimuli and exercise it needs. 

According to research, the sooner hearing loss is addressed and the more consistently you wear your hearing aids, the better your overall success with hearing aids will be. The brain takes time to adjust to hearing amplified sounds — it’s a process. If you only wear your hearing aids when you go out into more challenging listening environments, your brain may not be accustomed to processing amplified sounds, leading to potential overwhelm. The more comfortable your brain becomes hearing through your hearing aids, the easier it will be to perceive amplified sounds as natural. To phrase that in another way: Not wearing your hearing aids in quiet will make it more difficult for your brain to accept the amplified signals when you are wearing hearing aids in noisier environments, like at a restaurant.

By partnering with ACA, you’ve made an incredible investment in yourself and a commitment to a higher quality of life. So, wear your hearing aids. Allow them to work for you — from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to sleep. You will be more connected to the environment around you at all times, not just when you’re in a noisy restaurant. Above all, be patient and consistent. Trust in the process, and trust in the hearing health professionals who are here to work with you to achieve your very best hearing. 

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“Can You Hear Me Now?”

How ‘bout now? Do you have trouble hearing in certain situations? We always say even with the best hearing aid technology there are always exceptions and circumstances beyond our control. And, of course, there will be differences from one person to another.  Some thoughts to keep in mind:

#1 – It depends on who’s talking. There are certain voices that may be difficult to hear or understand. This can be for many reasons, including lower volume, speed of speech, pitch of voice, or the talker’s accent. All of these things mean the brain has to work harder to decipher what is being said. 

#2 – It depends on where you are. Large rooms, auditoriums, theaters – poor acoustics are everywhere. Reverberant rooms – or rooms where the sound seems to bounce around – make it difficult to understand what’s being said. 

#3 – It depends on what’s going on around you. Difficulty hearing in background noise is the most common concern we hear at ACA. Processing what you want to hear is much more difficult when there is competing noise. It’s also important to remember that everyone has more trouble hearing in noise.  

#4 – The earlier, the better! As audiologists, we know that the earlier you address any sort of change in your hearing the more likely you are to be successful.  This is true for hearing in background noise as well.  Unfortunately, most people wait far too long to address changes in hearing.  The average person waits 8-10 years.  This is far too long!  Would you wait 10 years to address a change in your eye sight?  Probably not.  Address your hearing now to ensure your best hearing now and in the future.  

Something else that’s important to keep in mind is that there are amazing hearing aid technologies available to help! We want you to be able to hear to the best of your abilities. Sometimes, hearing aids alone are not enough. We do not want you to disengage from the things that you enjoy! There are apps, remote microphones, TV streamers, and other assistive listening technologies that may be helpful. 

Most of our hearing aid manufacturers have apps that can be downloaded onto your smartphone. With a compatible hearing aid, you can use your phone as a remote control, as a personal microphone, or to turn your hearing aids into wireless headphones. In addition, there are other great apps and accessibility devices that can help with your hearing. For example, Tunity can transmit the sound from the TV to your smartphone, which can often then be transmitted wirelessly to your hearing aids. Regal Theatres have glasses that show captions for most of their movies. Finally, though not fully utilized, some places in Atlanta have hearing loops installed. If you have a telecoil in your hearing aid – a feature present in many of the hearing aids we dispense at our office – you can utilize a telecoil program to get improved clarity through a hearing loop. For example, at the Fox Theatre, you can request a personal loop, which is worn around your neck.  

Ask your audiologist what is available to help you hear to the best of your abilities! 

Kelli Smith

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New ACA baby!

We are happy to announce that our Elsie Matthews and her husband Paul are the proud new parents of John Mason Matthews, born May 4, 2019!

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To Hear Is Social 

It’s Saturday night. We’re at a restaurant on Tybee Island. A party of nine is at the next table. Five children on one side, four adults on the other.

Three adults sitting in a row can have a conversation. Four not so much. Before long the guy on one end is looking at his phone. 

Same with the kids. The boys bookending the kids side are on their phones. They’re about the same age, could be joking with each other, but since they aren’t sitting together they can’t interact. The three kids in the middle are having a good time. Nine people: one-third on their screens.  Read Full Article

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Heat, Humidity and Your Hearing Aids 

Tis the season! Summer festivals, pool openings, and good old-fashioned southern humidity. Your hearing aids are tiny computers that are constantly exposed to the elements. Especially during the humid months, it’s important to take care of them to help them live their best life.  Here are some recommendations on how to keep your hearing aids happy and dry:  Read Full Article

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Tell Me About Tinnitus

Tinnitus is defined as any noise or sound heard in the head that is not externally produced. For many, it sounds like a whistle, buzz, hum or static. Most people, in a quiet enough environment will hear tinnitus; however, for around 50 million Americans, it is a constant or frequent companion. This can cause anxiety and depression, and for almost 2 million, tinnitus is significant enough to seek treatment.

Unfortunately, tinnitus is not understood very well, which leads to misconceptions. Even worse, many people who seek treatment are told by their medical professional that there is nothing they can do about it, and they should go home and learn to live with it.


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The Hearing Journey

Here at ACA, we know that what you, the patient, thinks and experiences is an important part of your hearing healthcare. For that reason, we are collecting stories from patients – like you! If you’d like to share your hearing journey with our readers, please click here to send us an email. Meanwhile, please enjoy this perspective from a long-time hearing aid user.  


I’ve been wearing hearing aids for more years than I can remember. This move was prompted by family and friends getting on my case, since I was always asking them to repeat themselves or saying, “Huh?” a lot! Although the technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is today, and my first aids were bulky and noticeable, I was immediately thankful that I’d gotten over my reluctance (vanity).  Read Full Article

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Will I Need to Change the Batteries?

One of the first questions a new hearing aid user asks is “How long does the battery last?”. Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their batteries. The smallest batteries – size 10 –typically last about 3-5 days, while the largest batteries – size 675 – fit more powerful hearing aids and typically last for up to two weeks. Batteries are often purchased from an audiology clinic, but can also be purchased at most places that sell other batteries. If purchasing batteries elsewhere, be sure to check the expiration date! Want to get a bit more life out of your batteries? Take the sticker off and let the battery sit outside the hearing aid for about 5 minutes. This will allow the battery to fully activate, giving you little bit of extra time between “battery low” warnings.  Read Full Article

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Size Matters…or Does It?

Often new and even existing patients have an idea of what type or size of hearing aids they would like, but don’t have the information on the differences among them. Patients will also remark ”I want the best one – you know- that small hearing aid I keep seeing in the advertisements.” True, there are many different styles and types of hearing aids, but smaller doesn’t necessarily mean better. 

At Audiological Consultants of Atlanta, we look at the whole patient when making hearing aid recommendations. What does that mean, exactly? 
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Audiological Consultants of Atlanta Wins Four Years Running

We are thrilled to share that Audiological Consultants of Atlanta is the winner of the 2018 Consumers’ Choice Award! We could not have accomplished this great achievement without the support of our wonderful and loyal patients.

Thank you for voting for Audiological Consultants!

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