Hearing Solutions N.E., Inc.
A Note from Dr. Sheets
Help Yourself Hear Better - Sooner Rather Than Later
by Peggy L. Sheets, Au.D.
Over the course of my 25 year career as an audiologist, I have heard patients admit to knowing about their hearing loss for years, decades even, yet they put off pursuing treatment. Recently, I was working with an active senior being fit with new hearing aids. She told me about a friend who has a hearing loss that the friend has known about for over five years. Her friend says "she doesn't need to hear the high frequencies." Hence, she chooses not to do anything about treating her hearing loss. This comment reaffirms my purpose for writing these articles.
Why not get help?
With today's technology and professional hearing care, this reaction toward not treating a known hearing loss continues to disturb me. Is it the misconception that hearing aids are only for "old people?" Although that is not the case, even if it were, why not take care of your hearing so you can stay in the stream of life? The richness of life is about communication. Is it the cost? Certainly, this is a viable concern, but it is not usually the reason people do not pursue help. Is it the cosmetics? Today, many hearing aids are so cosmetically appealing that the visibility is not an issue. Is it knowing who to trust for help? This I understand, as most people are bombarded with product/promotional advertising in the newspaper and now invading mailboxes. Some advertising tactics resemble the proverbial used car sales. I venture to guess it could be one or all of the above or even others I have not mentioned.
When to get help?
Why does it matter when you get treatment? Well, like everything else that you don't use consistently, your brain and neural-motor memory will forget how to use it. Consider this, if I put your right arm in a cast for five years and didn't let you use it, then took the cast off and told you to write a letter, or throw a baseball, you wouldn't do such a good job. In addition, as we grow in years, we also react slower to change and it is harder to re-train our bodies to do what we want them to do. This is true with our hearing. If you adjust to listening through a filter, (your hearing loss), re-acclimating to all the sounds that are around you will be more difficult the longer you wait. It's never too late to seek treatment, but certainly be aware that it may be harder and involve more patience and perseverance the longer you wait. The sooner you start treating your hearing loss, the better.
Use it or Lose it
When hearing loss is not treated, the brain does not receive stimulation and "forgets how to process" some of the speech sounds that are important for speech understanding. This is called "auditory deprivation." In other words, "use it or lose it." Hearing loss acts like a filter by not allowing many sounds that occur in our surroundings to get through and be processed by the brain. Over time, the lack of stimulation can result in deterioration.
Getting Used to Sound Again
When trying hearing aids for the first time, one of the biggest challenges a person faces has to do with learning to hear and process all of the sounds that haven't been perceived for so long. Noises like the refrigerator motor, or the sound a nylon windbreaker makes, as our arms move back and forth, which aren't processed because of the hearing loss. We lose the ability to recognize and identify speech sounds and it takes time to re-train the brain. The longer you go without treating your hearing loss, the more time and patience it takes to go through the adaptation process of treatment.
Is it Time?
The first signs of hearing loss involve watching television at a volume others find to be louder than necessary, experiencing difficulty when the sound source is at a distance or when background noise is present. Typically, it takes years and years for a hearing loss to reach the point where others begin to make comments and express frustration about having to repeat things all the time. When others notice there is a problem, auditory deprivation has been occurring for a long, long, time. The time is NOW.
Call us for a hearing evaluation.
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