Over five percent of the world’s population experience disabling hearing loss at some point in their lifetime, with hearing loss affecting 48 million Americans alone, it is clearly something that a large number of us will experience. A third of people aged between 65 and 74 experience some form of hearing loss and it is particularly an issue for the older population.
Apart from obviously making hearing more difficult, hearing loss can also have a big impact on how your brain functions, so it is vitally important that you know about how hearing loss impacts your brain and what you can do about it.
How does hearing loss impact your brain?
The University of Colorado completed a study recently which investigated the link between neuroplasticity and hearing loss. Neuroplasticity is when the brain forms new neural connections, and the researchers wanted to investigate how neuroplasticity impacts the brain’s ability to change and adapt to hearing loss.
The research highlighted that when you experience hearing loss, the parts of your brain that process sound are not being used and eventually, their role within the brain is reassigned to another function. While this may improve your sense of vision or smell, it has a detrimental impact on your hearing. However, this also means that when you experience hearing loss other parts of your brain become devoted to helping you hear better, but this means that there are fewer parts of the brain fulfilling their original role.
How can treating hearing loss remedy this issue?
Early intervention in treating hearing loss is crucial for maintaining good cognitive function and giving the patient the best possible treatment. The easiest way to treat hearing loss is with the use of hearing aids which allow you to hear the sounds around you clearly and perfectly.
This does not just make navigating the world around you easier and allow you to maintain a high quality of sound but ensures that the different parts of your brain are fulfilling their correct functions. This removes any possibility of your brain reorganizing the function of its parts to adapt to your hearing loss, and this eliminates any chance of rapid cognitive decline, ensuring that your brain continues to work as it should whilst providing you with better hearing.
What exactly do hearing aids do?
Hearing aids are small devices that you wear behind your ear that will make sounds louder so that you can communicate and listen with others more effectively. A hearing aid makes sounds louder by magnifying sound vibrations that enter the ear.
There are three different styles of hearing aids for you to choose from, these are: in the ear (ITE), behind the ear (BTE) and in the canal (ITC). ITC hearing aids are the most discreet, but all of them will help improve your sense of hearing. BTE are the most common style of hearing aid and are attached to an earmold that fits inside your ear with a small tube. ITE hearing aids are similar to BTE hearing aids but are much less visible and more intricate.
However, hearing aids can only help improve your hearing if you still have some hearing left, so do not put off seeking help from an audiologist until your hearing has deteriorated as the earlier you receive hearing aids, the more you will be able to get out of them.
How do you get a hearing aid?
You should consult your audiologist if you are experiencing difficulties hearing and think you may require a hearing aid. Most likely, your audiologist will run an assessment to determine whether a hearing aid is right or not for you. An audiologist will also be able to program your hearing aid to suit your level of hearing loss and will tell you how to take care of it properly. It may take you some time to become adjusted to your new hearing aid, but eventually, you may not even notice them.
Where can you receive support for hearing loss?
It is imperative to seek help if you are experiencing hearing loss, but it is also vitally important to know what signs of early hearing loss to look out for. All of this can be learned by arranging an appointment with an audiologist or by calling Audiology Associates at (707) 981-4336.
Audiology Associates also have a website where you can learn more about what services they offer as well as take a hearing survey and learn more about the different kinds of hearing aids and which one may suit you best.
Meet Our Doctor
To health and staying connected,
Dr. Peter Marincoivch