“My hearing is really not that bad, do I really need hearing aids?”
“Maybe I’ll wait until I’m really deaf to do something, give it a couple more years.”
Most people think hearing loss is not life threatening. We live with it and use strategies to compensate until it gets really bad. By neglecting your hearing, you may be doing more harm than you realise.
Think of your hearing like a muscle. Muscles in our bodies require exercise and movement; otherwise they will waste away and deteriorate. However if you start doing weights, you will see results with your muscles strengthening very quickly. The auditory system works in the same way, if sounds are not activating the hearing nerves, these nerves will weaken and degenerate. This is called auditory deprivation.
Your hearing may be even more vital that you think. The hearing system is responsible in keeping areas of your brain fit. Research has found that the amount that someone hears is related to their brain function. With less activation of the hearing system cognitive decline can result. These studies show that those with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia and other cognitive disorders. This is because the brain is not exercised as much as in people with normal hearing. In other words; if it’s not reaching the ear, it’s not reaching the brain.
Keep your brain healthy by continually using your hearing pathways – it’s no different to keeping your bodies healthy by exercising your muscles! Like any other health issue, early detection of hearing loss and treatment with the appropriate device will lead to faster and better results. Be proactive about keeping your hearing healthy: The first time you find yourself turning the TV up is the time to make an appointment to get your hearing tested!
Shiell M, Champoux F, Zatorre R. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. “Reorganization of Auditory Cortex in Early-deaf People: Functional Connectivity and Relationship to Hearing Aid Use”. Posted online July 7 2014.
Lin F. John Hopkins Medicine. “Hearing Loss Accelerates Brain Function Decline in Older Adults”. Released January 23 2013.