Hearing Devices: When to Take ‘Em Off or Leave ‘Em On

Some people tear off their hearing devices as soon as they walk through their front door.

All day they’ve suffered the onslaught of noise – words, sounds and simply noise-noise. Their brain is fried, and they need to not be processing anything for a while. They yank off their hearing aid or cochlear implant sound processor and settle into the bliss of relative silence, cradled in the cocoon of their un-aided deafness.

If I knew I could have golden silence at the end of a long hearing day, I might do the same thing on occasion. But as a tinnitus-hearer, that bliss is denied to me, available only when I’m asleep, so I keep my devices on until bedtime. Luckily, in my dreams, I hear no head noise.

I am assuming, but can’t say for sure, that most people are like me; once they’ve become used to their hearing aids and cochlear implants, they use their devices from morning ‘til night. It just feels right and offers the best reason to leave your hearing devices on: you can hear!  Back in the day when I used bilateral hearing aids, I would feel dizzy if I went without them for too long. They weren’t perfect, but they made me feel connected and kept me pointed in more or less the right direction. Once I became bimodal (hearing-speak for an aid on one side and cochlear implant on the other), the world became REALLY LOUD, AND STAYED LOUD, BUT I’VE BECOME USED TO THAT! More or less.

Every person with hearing loss or who is deaf has the right to live by their own set of communication rules. You can call yourself whatever you want – deaf, hard of hearing, have a hearing loss, hearing-impaired, late-deafened, oral deaf, a little deaf, or Deaf deaf (as in Deaf Culture). You can flaunt your hearing technology or you can do a comb-over to hide it. You can opt for a cochlear implant (if you qualify), or not. You can get involved in the hearing loss advocacy world, or you and your device can go about your business, privately. It’s your life, your communication, and you make your own choices.

But first, how can we make decisions without information? And some of the best information about the hearing loss life comes from the people who are living it. You can listen up or you can ignore it, but there’s a lot to learn from in that treasure chest of personal experience.

 

When, or When Not, to Take Off Your Hearing Aid or Sound Processor

 

So back to the issue of when, or when not, to remove your hearing gear. This is my take, although there may be nothing earth-shattering here for you.

First the oh duh” stuff. Take off your hearing aid or sound processor when you’re:

  • Taking a shower or going for a swim. Note: many of us have unfortunately removed the hearing aid after we hit the water. Timing is everything.
  • When you go to bed at night – and put them safely in a drying aid.
  • When you’re changing the batteries.

It’s understandable why you want to remove your technology in some situations:

  • You’re finally home after a long, long day of listening and hearing and if you hear another sound, you will scream!
  • The hearing aid or sound processor is bothering your ear or scalp. It’s time to visit the audiologist, because something isn’t fitting correctly.
  • You just want to shake your head from side to side and run your hands through your hair like a wild thing and not have to worry about losing or damaging thousands of dollars of hearing stuff. (Other people besides me do this, don’t they?)

Some situations call for caution.

  • Your device gives off the ‘battery needs changing’ dingy-dong-dings and, oh man, you’re in a dark movie theater. You paid good money to see this show but you cringe, knowing that the sounds that go with changing batteries will resound through the theater – like the rustling in your purse to find fresh batteries and the whistle of your hearing aid before you get it back in your ear. Also, the sound of you on your hands and knees on the floor looking for the hearing aid you just dropped.

One last suggestion regarding a certain communication environment that you might want to reconsider your habit of taking off your technology.

  • I’m talking about intimate situations, the ones that are otherwise known as sex. Some people, depending on what point their relationship is at, worry that their device might squeal, fall off, or be off-putting for their partner. So they remove it. Here’s what I know: chances are good that someone you’re interested in and care enough about to be intimate with, won’t care that you have hearing loss and wear devices. They would would want you to be relaxed and engaged.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

 

 

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

4 Comments

  1. Gail is very observant about the side issues and this does help the hearing aid community with inspiration!
    to begin with, hearing aids are the main cause of progressive hearing loss. This is because we really need no more that 15 db of amplification for a pure sensory neural hearing loss!
    I have reduced the MPO”s for ALL my patients by 30db to about 50 db and noticed that:
    “They continue to hear well, and hear better cognitively due to better cognition that results”
    The industry has headed in the wrong direction focusing on sound pressure that damages the 8th nerve when we exceed threshold amplification limits.

    Hence, when hearing aids are worn with PTA’s at about 15-20db, it makes perfect sense that we get both amplification, and reduced neurotransmitter pressures on the 8th nerve that help reduce damage to the auditory system.

    HHTM: you are not providing feedback to our responses in this blog. Why?

    1. Thank you for writing, and apologize for the delay in responding, although not all comments invite a response. Thanks also for your kind words about my writing. I’m not sure I agree with your premise that hearing aids are the main cause of progressive hearing loss, but look forward to seeing how others feel.

  2. As a HOH programmer, I don’t turn off my hearing aids, but I do stream classical music. The streaming function in my hearing aids allows me to change the balance between the streaming sound and the ambient noise in the office. This allows me to filter out much of the background noise so I can concentrate on my work.

    1. Hi Gael, hope you are enjoying Vancouver! Personally, I love my ability to “go deaf” during times when the world is just needlessly noisy – public transit with unhappy babies and coffee shops with chattering adults come to mind. Not proud of this, bit disagreements with my partner are also times when I have availed myself of this useful ability. Oh, one more time…when watching any political video – to assess how authentic the speakers’ expressions are. As always, it’s great to hear your point of view.

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