Tips & Tricks

Cochlear Implant First Fitting: What to Know About Activation Day

One of the most exciting dates in your hearing journey is often your cochlear implant activation: the date when you can hear with your implant for the first time! We know there are lots of questions about what exactly happens during a first fitting, so we’ve put together a handy activation day guide.

What Is a Cochlear Implant First Fitting?

The first fitting is the date when your hearing implant is turned on and programmed with your external audio processor for the first time. It is sometimes called the “switch-on day,” “activation day,” “hook-up,” or “first mapping.” These are all different words for the same thing. Depending on where you live and your specific surgery, your first fitting will happen sometime between 1–6 weeks after the surgery.

What Happens During a First Fitting?

During your first fitting, your audiologist will match your hearing implant to your specific cochlea and hearing needs. You’ll be able to listen to different sounds through your hearing implant and then tell your audiologist how each one sounds and feels. Your audiologist will use this information to make a program, or “map,” that is customized for you. At the end of the fitting, your programs are saved to the audio processor so that you can begin to wear it every day.

Maybe you’ve heard from other recipients about their first fittings or searched for videos and stories online? This can be a great way to get general information about activation experiences. Just remember: everybody’s experience will be different. The best way to succeed is to take it slow, enjoy the moment, and not have unrealistic expectations.

What Should I Bring to My Activation Appointment?

Such an exciting date is bound to bring lots of anticipation and anxiety, and only you know what makes you comfortable. So that’s what you should bring to your first fitting: family members or loved ones to share in the experience. And if you have a hearing aid in your other ear, bring it with you so your audiologist can optimize the fitting.

If your child is having their first fitting, it would be a good idea to bring along some drinks and snacks or their favorite cuddly toy so that they have something familiar to hold on to.

I’ve Heard It’s Important to Manage My Expectations. What Does That Mean?

Everybody’s experience is different. So it’s really important that you don’t get too excited (or disappointed) after your first fitting. Your hearing journey has just begun!

There will be a lot of new hearing experiences that happen in the days after the first fitting. Here are some of the most common:

  • Sounds might seem quieter or different than they were while you were at your audiologist’s office. That’s okay because it shows that your brain is getting used to this new way of hearing.
  • Specific sounds might become more meaningful: you’ll be able to recognize beeps as belonging to the microwave or telephone instead of just being a generic “beep.”
  • Speech might become more understandable.
  • Sounds might feel overwhelming or tiring to begin with because you may be hearing many more and new sounds with your CI that you hadn’t heard in a long time.

What Questions Should I Ask My Audiologist?

The best questions are any and all questions! You can never ask too many. But here are three questions that you can use as a starting point:

  • What will my fitting schedule look like, and when is my next appointment?
  • What kind of rehabilitation activities should I do, and what resources are available to me?
  • What should I do if I am worried when I go home?

What happens after your first fitting? Check out our blog post about the first month of hearing with a cochlear implant. And take a look at the Rehab at Home for Adults videos for further ideas about rehabilitation activities to do at home, or download some activities to begin your listening practice.


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The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution is suitable for your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications shown are approved in all countries.


1 Comment


July 29, 2023

اريد جهاز حلزون ل ابني


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July 31, 2023

Hi Mohammed, thank you for your comment. We suggest reaching to your local MED-EL team as they will be able to assist you and your son personally. Please use your country's specific contact details, you can find them here: Kind Regards, Giulia


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