People who need prescription glasses (but don’t wear corrective lenses) are at risk of making their vision worse. They must strain harder to see, which causes damage to their eyes. This extra effort also leads to frequent headaches.
The same is true of hearing.
If you suffer from some type of hearing loss and don’t wear assistive technology, you face a very high risk of “auditory deprivation.” This happens because incoming sound signals are not properly reaching or being processed by the auditory centers in your brain.
This deprivation can lead to a number of problems, including:
- Measurably worse hearing ability
- Slow and gradual cognitive decline
- Dramatically reduced quality of life
But unlike with eyesight, the underlying reasons for auditory deprivation are far more complex than simple “straining of the ears.”
WHAT CAUSES AUDITORY DEPRIVATION?
Incoming auditory information is encoded and integrated using many different neural networks throughout the brain. This is why hearing aids do more than just basic sound amplification. They must also “time” and “balance” auditory signals to ensure your brain receives information in a way that makes sense.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA),
“Decades of research, both in animals and in humans, have shown that the acoustic components of a signal (level and timing) are biologically represented through various place and timing codes. Auditory deprivation (hearing loss) alters those original biological codes, as does the process of aging….”
If the levels and timing of incoming auditory signals are consistently out of sync, the neural networks are responsible for encoding this information slowly atrophy.
And this kicks off a vicious cycle:
- As the auditory system becomes weaker, you must strain harder and harder to hear what’s happening around you
- This straining overtaxes your brain, forcing your neural networks to divert resources that aren’t normally meant for auditory processing
- Focusing becomes more difficult while tuning out of conversations becomes easier and easier
All of this leads to even more atrophy within your auditory processing centers. Worse still, feelings of social isolation rise as you increasingly find yourself on the sidelines of everyday activities and conversations.
And this leads to even more cognitive decline – continuing the downward spiral.
Fortunately, this condition is both treatable and preventable.
HOW TO PREVENT AUDITORY DEPRIVATION
All of the above highlights the importance of wearing hearing aids. But it’s not always that simple.
Many who start with hearing aids eventually stop because their devices are either uncomfortable or ineffective. This is especially true when ordering hearing aids over-the-counter (OTC).
But even those who use hearing aids all the time are at risk of auditory deprivation if their devices have not been carefully selected, programmed and fitted for the wearer.
In other words – no more:
- Auditory deprivation
- Cognitive decline
- Social isolation
If you’re experiencing difficulty hearing or understanding words, please don’t wait. Call Schmidt’s Optical and Hearing™ at 772-286-4327 to schedule a free hearing evaluation with our Board Certified Hearing Aid Specialist.