“Hearing aids are not like glasses, in the sense that they don’t automatically correct your hearing in the way that glasses correct your vision,” says Sarasota Audiologist and The Hearing Spa co-founder Vicky Moore. That’s why when it comes to hearing, wearing your hearing aids regularly is crucial for reaping the maximum benefits of treatment. In this blog post, we'll discuss why it's important to wear your hearing aids regularly and how doing so can improve your overall quality of life.
Our hearing is done in the brain.
Contrary to what you might think, hearing is not just about the ears. In fact, our ears are just the beginning of the process. The real work of hearing happens in the brain, which is responsible for interpreting the sounds that we hear.
Hearing is a complex process that involves both the ears and the brain. When we hear a sound, the vibrations from that sound are collected by the ear and transmitted to the brain through the auditory nerve. The brain then processes this information and interprets it as a specific sound, such as a person's voice or the sound of a car honking.
The ears are responsible for collecting and transmitting sound waves, but it's the brain that does the real work of processing those sounds. It’s the same as how a microphone is not solely responsible for the entire production process in a music studio. The brain is responsible for interpreting the sounds that we hear, as well as filtering out background noise and distinguishing different sounds from one another.
Beware of ‘Auditory Deprivation’
In order for our hearing to function properly, it's important that both the ears and the brain are working correctly. When we have hearing loss, it's not just our ears that are affected, but our brain as well. Without the proper input of sound, the brain doesn't get the stimulation it needs to function properly, leading to a phenomenon known as ‘auditory deprivation’.
One of the most obvious impacts of auditory deprivation is that it becomes harder for us to communicate with others. Without the proper input of sound, our brain has a harder time processing speech and understanding what other people are saying. This can lead to social isolation, as we may become less inclined to engage in conversation or participate in group activities.
Auditory deprivation can also have negative impacts on our cognitive health. Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and even dementia. It's thought that this may be due to the extra strain that auditory deprivation places on the brain, which can lead to the death of brain cells over time.
Tips for getting used to wearing hearing aids
When we first get hearing aids, it's natural to feel a bit overwhelmed. All of a sudden, we're being bombarded with sounds that we haven't heard in a long time, and it can take some time to get used to them.
However, most people are able to adjust to their hearing aids within two to three weeks, as their brain adapts to the new sounds and learns to block out background noise like the hum of a refrigerator. It's important to give yourself time to adjust to your hearing aids, and not to get discouraged if you're having a hard time at first. With a little patience and perseverance, you'll soon be hearing the world in a whole new way.
If you're just starting to use your hearing aids, or if you're considering getting them, here are some tips to help you get used to them.
Gradually increase the amount of time you wear your hearing aids.
Start by wearing them for just an hour or two each day, in quiet environments. As you become more comfortable, try wearing them outdoors and gradually work up to wearing them all day (just remember to take them out for showering and sleeping). The more you wear your hearing aids, the faster you'll become accustomed to them.
Get used to everyday noises.
Your brain has become accustomed to hearing with your hearing loss, so it may take some time to adjust to the new sounds you'll be hearing with your hearing aids. Practice listening to common noises like boiling kettles, humming refrigerators, and doors opening and closing.
Use your hearing aids while watching TV.
This will help you adjust to hearing different sounds and you can experiment with different volume levels to see what works best for you.
Practice having conversations with just one person.
It's normal to hear your own voice more with your hearing aids, and you might find that it sounds a bit strange at first. Be patient and give yourself time to adjust. Make sure you're in a quiet place with good lighting, and if the other person sits facing you, it will be easier to lipread. Remember to explain to the other person that you're getting used to your hearing aids and they might need to be patient with you.
Try using your hearing aids in group conversations and noisy environments.
Noisy places like restaurants or train stations can be challenging, so try them when you feel ready. The more you have worn your hearing aids, the better you'll be able to manage with background noise.
Take the first step towards better hearing by scheduling a consultation with us at The Hearing Spa in Sarasota or Bradenton. Our expert team will be able to assess your hearing and recommend the best treatment options for you. With our help, you'll be able to reconnect with your loved ones and fully participate in life's rich tapestry of sounds.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists and start your journey towards better hearing.