The earliest hearing devices were large, funnel-shaped devices that the user would hold to one’s ear intermittently to amplify sound. Thanks to continuous improvements to that 17th-century concept, modern hearing instruments are small, comfortable, and allow for consistent sound amplification throughout the day.
To get the most benefit from your hearing devices, it’s important to wear them all day. If you’ve never worn hearing devices before, you may need to gradually increase the time you wear them, starting with just a few hours a day. Once you’re able to wear hearing devices all day, don’t take “breaks” during the day – there’s never a time when you don’t need to hear.
How Taking Breaks Affects Sound Processing
People who are new to hearing devices often find that initially, the level of sound they hear is overwhelming. That’s because the brain has to re-learn how to process and prioritize sounds. Consistent input from hearing devices helps the brain adapt to sound. Removing hearing aids disrupts that process.
When humans learn a challenging new skill, like playing the piano, they need to practice consistently to become proficient. The brain works similarly when it’s learning how to process sound, and if you remove your hearing devices, you’re depriving it of valuable practice time.
Your Environment is Never ‘Quiet’
Do you really need to wear hearing devices all day if you’re at home alone reading? Yes. Because even though you may perceive your environment to be quiet, your hearing instruments are picking up on ambient noise, like the hum of the refrigerator, or the sound of birds chirping outside. That’s information your brain needs.
Exceptions to the Rule
Remove your hearing devices before showering, swimming, or sleeping, or in situations that call for hearing protection. Otherwise, wear them consistently.
If you’re ever tempted to remove hearing devices due to discomfort or pain, see your audiologist. A simple adjustment may make them more comfortable.