Multiple studies have verified that hearing loss can have an impact on your brain. (Just have a look at some of our past blog posts.) The good news is, it’s also been verified that you can regain some of that cognitive ability by using hearing aids.
We’re not stating that you will become smarter just by wearing hearing aids. But there’s some compelling research that suggests cognitive ability can be enhanced by wearing hearing aids lowering your risk for anxiety, depression, and dementia.
Your Brain is in Charge of a Substantial Amount of Your Hearing
It’s essential to recognize how large a part your brain plays in hearing if you are going to comprehend the link between cognition and your ears. It’s the brain’s task to convert sound vibrations into recognizable sound information. The regions of the brain that translate sound will suddenly have less to do when hearing starts to diminish.
Changes in your brain (and hearing), coupled with other considerations (such as social isolation), can result in the onset of mental health issues. Depression, dementia, and anxiety are a lot more noticeable in individuals who have neglected hearing loss.
Your essentially “treating” your hearing loss when you’re wearing hearing aids. That means:
- You can stop your hearing from getting worse by wearing hearing aids in conjunction with regular screening.
- You’ll be less likely to isolate yourself socially. Conversations will be easier to comprehend and follow, so you’ll be more likely to participate.
- The regions of your brain responsible for hearing will get a more consistent workout; the more your brain works, the healthier your brain stays.
Keeping You on Your Toes
Hearing aids can prevent depression, anxiety, and dementia because they enhance your brain and your social life.
- Boosting awareness: Sometimes, because you’re not mindful of your environment, you might have a fall. Your situational awareness can be significantly hampered by hearing conditions. Figuring out what direction sound is originating from can be as difficult as hearing sound in general. A fall or other accident can be the result.
- State of the art technology: Hearing aids have started incorporating unique technology that can actually alert emergency contacts (or emergency services) when someone using the hearing aids experiences a fall. This might not prevent the fall to begin with, but it can prevent long-term injuries or complications caused by the fall.
- The health of your inner ear: Loss of hearing by itself will not result in inner ear injury. But there is frequently a common cause for both loss of hearing and damage to the inner ear. So treating the one can help you treat the other, and in some cases, a hearing aid is a component of that treatment regimen.
Truthfully, you have a higher chance of avoiding a fall when you’re using hearing aids. A hearing aid improves your physical health and cognitive capability while performing the important tasks of helping you stay more mindful, more focused, and more dialed in.
Stop Neglecting Your Hearing Aid
We haven’t even addressed the fact that a hearing aid will also improve your hearing. So when you take into consideration that amplified hearing, factor in the mental health benefits and physical well-being, it seems like wearing these devices should be a simple choice (not something you need to overthink).
The problem is that many people don’t know they have hearing loss. When your hearing goes away slowly, you may have a hard time noticing. That’s the reason why it’s essential to get your hearing checked routinely. A wide range of other health issues can be made worse by hearing loss.
Hearing aids will lessen the chances of physical damage while helping to slow dementia and depression. That’s a stunning mix of benefits that hearing aids provide, and they also help your hearing.
Your brain develops in a different way than normal if you’re born with loss of hearing. Surprised? That’s because our ideas about the brain aren’t always accurate. Your mind, you believe, is a static thing: it only changes due to injury or trauma. But the fact is that brains are a little more…dynamic.
Your Brain is Impacted by Hearing
The majority of people have heard that when one sense decreases the others become more powerful. Vision is the most well known example: as you lose your vision, your taste, smell, and hearing will become super powerful as a counterbalance.
There could be some truth to this but it hasn’t been proven scientifically. Because loss of hearing, for example, can and does alter the sensory architecture of your brain. At least we know that occurs in children, how much we can extrapolate to adults is uncertain.
The physical structure of children’s brains, who have loss of hearing, has been demonstrated by CT scans to change, changing the part of the brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds to be more sensitive to visual information.
The newest studies have gone on to discover that even moderate hearing loss can have an influence on the brain’s architecture.
How Hearing Loss Changes The Brain
A specific amount of brainpower is dedicated to each sense when they are all working. A specific amount of brain power goes towards interpreting touch, a certain amount towards hearing or vision, and so on. When your young, your brain is extremely pliable and that’s when these pathways are being formed and this architecture is being set up.
Conventional literature had already verified that in children with total or near-total hearing loss, the brain changed its general structure. Instead of being committed to hearing, that space in the brain is restructured to be committed to vision. The brain gives more power and space to the senses that are delivering the most input.
Modifications With Mild to Medium Loss of Hearing
What’s unexpected is that this same rearrangement has been observed in children with mild to medium hearing loss also.
These brain alterations won’t result in superpowers or substantial behavioral changes, to be clear. Helping people adapt to hearing loss appears to be a more realistic interpretation.
A Relationship That Has Been Strong For a Long Time
The research that loss of hearing can alter the brains of children definitely has ramifications beyond childhood. The great majority of people dealing with loss of hearing are adults, and the hearing loss itself is frequently a direct result of long-term noise or age-related damage. Are their brains also being altered by hearing loss?
Some research suggests that noise damage can actually trigger inflammation in particular areas of the brain. Other evidence has associated untreated hearing loss with higher chances for dementia, depression, and anxiety. So although it’s not certain if the other senses are improved by hearing loss we are sure it modifies the brain.
Individuals from around the country have anecdotally borne this out.
The Affect of Hearing Loss on Your General Health
It’s more than superficial insight that loss of hearing can have such an important influence on the brain. It’s a reminder that the brain and the senses are inherently connected.
There can be noticeable and considerable mental health issues when hearing loss develops. So that you can be prepared for these consequences you need to be mindful of them. And being prepared will help you take the appropriate steps to maintain your quality of life.
How drastically your brain physically changes with the start of hearing loss will depend on a myriad of factors ((age is a leading factor because older brains have a more difficult time creating new neural pathways). But there’s no doubt that neglected hearing loss will have an effect on your brain, no matter how mild it is, and no matter how old you are.
Your hearing aids don’t sound right despite the fact that you just changed the batteries. Things just sound off, like they’re a little bit dull and distant. It’s like some of the sound is missing. When you do some basic research, a low battery seems to be the most likely cause. Which frustrates you because you keep the batteries charged every night.
Even so, here you are, struggling to hear your bunch of friends carry on a conversation around you. This is precisely the situation you got hearing aids to prevent. Before you get too angry with your hearing aids, there’s one more reason for this diminished sound you may want to check: your own earwax.
You’re Hearing Aids Live in Your Ears
Your hearing aids reside in your ear, normally. Your ear canal is at least contacted even by an over the ear design. And for best efficiency, other models have been designed to be positioned directly in the ear canal. Wherever your hearing aid is positioned, it will encounter an ever-present neighbor: earwax.
Now, earwax does a lot of important things for the health of your ears ((various infection can actually be avoided because of the antibacterial and anti-fungal qualities of earwax, according to many studies). So earwax is not a bad thing.
But earwax and hearing aids don’t always work together quite as well–the standard functionality of your hearing aid can be impeded by earwax, especially the moisture. The good news is, this isn’t really a surprise to hearing aid manufacturers and earwax doesn’t often move in unpredictable ways.
So a protective feature, called wax guards, have been integrated so that the effective function of your device isn’t hampered by earwax. And those wax guards could be what’s causing the “weak” sound.
Things to Know About Wax Guards
There is a tiny piece of technology in your hearing aid called a wax guard. The idea is that the wax guard allows sound to go through, but not wax. Wax guards are essential for your hearing aid to continue working correctly. But issues can be caused by the wax guard itself in certain situations:
- When you purchased your new wax guards, you got the wrong one: Every model and maker has a different wax guard. If you get the wrong model for your particular hearing aid, your device’s functions may be diminished, and that may result in the hearing aid sounding “weak.”
- It’s been too long since the wax guard was cleaned: Cleaning your wax guard needs to be a monthly (or so) upkeep routine. A wax guard blocks the wax but it can become clogged and like any kind of filter, it has to be cleaned. Sound waves can be blocked if earwax is plugging up the wax guard and once in a while, you will need to clean it.
- A professional clean and check is required: At least once a year you should have your hearing aid professionally cleaned and checked to be certain it’s functioning correctly. And in order to make sure your hearing hasn’t changed at all, you should also have your hearing tested regularly.
- You have an unclean hearing aid shell: When you’re changing your earwax guard, it’s essential that your hearing aid shell be correctly cleaned as well. If your hearing aid shell is plugged with earwax, it’s possible some of that wax may find its way into the inside of the device while you’re swapping the guard (and this would clearly hinder the efficiency of your hearing aids).
- You haven’t replaced your wax guard for a while: Wax guards need replacing like any other filter. There’s only so much cleaning that can be done to a wax guard! When cleaning no longer does the trick, you may have to change your wax guard (you can buy a special toolkit to make this process easier).
Make sure you follow the included instruction for best success with your wax guard.
I Replaced my Wax Guard, What’s Next?
You should hear much improved sound quality once you switch your wax guard. Hearing and following conversation should become much better. And that can be a real relief if you’ve been aggravated with your (fully charged) hearing aid.
There’s undoubtedly a learning curve in regards to maintaining any complex device like hearing aids. So don’t forget: It’s most likely time to replace your wax guard if the sound quality of your hearing aid is poor even with a fully charged battery.
According to one recent survey, nearly 30% of people have gone more than ten years without getting a hearing test. Sofia is one of those people. She knows to have her oil changed every 3000 miles, she sees the dentist every six months, and she reports punctually for her yearly medical examination. But she hasn’t had a hearing examination in a long time.
There are a number of reasons why it’s important to have hearing evaluations, the most important of which is that it’s usually difficult for you to notice the first signs of hearing loss without one. Knowing how frequently she should get a hearing exam will help Sofia keep her ears (and hearing) as healthy as she can for as long as possible.
How Often Each Year Should my Ears be Checked?
We might be alarmed if Sophia hadn’t had a hearing examination in ten years. Or we might think it’s completely normal. Our reaction, and the reaction of her hearing specialist, probably will vary depending on how old she is. This is because hearing specialists have different guidelines based on age.
- If you are older than fifty: The general suggestion is that anyone over the age of fifty should get hearing checks every year. As you get older, the noise damage you’ve sustained over a lifetime can begin to speed up, which means loss of hearing is more likely to start affecting your life. Plus, there are other health problems that can impact your hearing.
- It’s generally suggested that you take a hearing exam every three years or so. Certainly, if you feel you should get your ears examined more frequently, that’s also fine. But once every three years is the bare minimum. You should absolutely get evaluated more often if you are frequently in a loud environment. There’s no reason not to do it, it’s painless and easy.
As far as your hearing is concerned, more often is certainly better. Since you last had a hearing assessment, you might have new injury you should know about, so regular hearing tests could be helpful.
Signs You Should Get Your Hearing Checked
There are definitely other occasions besides your annual hearing exam that you might want to schedule an appointment with your hearing specialist. For example, if you recognize symptoms of hearing loss. And in those situations, it’s often a good plan to immediately contact a hearing professional and schedule a hearing exam.
Some of the signs that might prompt you to get a hearing test could include:
- It’s typical for hearing loss in the high pitched register to fail first and because consonants are in a higher pitched register than vowels, they usually fail first.
- Sounds seem muffled; it’s starting to sound as though you constantly have water in your ears.
- Having a very hard time understanding people when talking on the phone, any phone.
- Continually asking people to slow down or repeat themselves during a conversation.
- Difficulty hearing discussions in loud surroundings.
- Listening to your favorite tunes at excessively high volumes.
A strong sign that right now is the best time to get a hearing exam is when the warning signs start to add up. You need to know what’s going on with your ears and that means getting a hearing test sooner rather than later.
What Are The Benefits of Hearing Testing?
There are plenty of reasons why Sofia may be late in having her hearing exam. Maybe she hasn’t thought about it. Possibly thinking about it is something she is simply avoiding. But getting your hearing tested on the recommended schedule has concrete advantages.
And it will be easier to identify hearing deviations in the future if you get your hearing checked by forming a baseline reading even if it seems like everything is normal. You can protect your hearing better if you catch it before it becomes an issue.
The point of regular hearing testing is that somebody like Sofia will be enabled to detect issues before her hearing is impaired permanently. Early detection by a hearing exam can help your hearing stay healthy for a long time. Understanding the effects of hearing loss on your total health, that’s essential.
Your hearing is your most precious instrument if you are a professional musician. So you’d think musicians would be fairly protective of their ears. But in general, that’s not the situation. Most musicians just accept loss of hearing. They believe that loss of hearing is just “part of the job”.
That attitude, however, is starting to be challenged by various new legal rulings and concerted public safety efforts. Damage to the ears, damage that unavoidably causes hearing loss, should never be “part of the job”. That’s especially true when there are established methods and means to safeguard your ears without eroding your performance.
When You’re in a Loud Environment, Safeguard Your Hearing
Obviously, musicians are not the only individuals who are subjected to a loud workplace environment. Nor are they the only class of professionals who have developed a fatalistic perspective to the damage as a consequence of loud noise. But practical levels of hearing protection have been more rapidly implemented by other occupations like manufacturing and construction.
Probably this is because of a couple of things:
- The saying goes “hard hat required”. That’s because the manufacturing and construction environments have many hazards. So donning protective equipment is something site foremen, construction workers, and managers are more likely to be accustomed to doing.
- Even if a musician is playing the same music nightly, they need to be capable of hearing quite well. If it seems as if it might hamper hearing, there can be some resistance to using hearing protection. It should also be mentioned, this resistance is usually due to false information.
- No matter how harshly you’re treated as an artist, there’s always a feeling that you’re lucky and that someone would be excited to be in your position. So some musicians might not want to rock the boat or complain about poor hearing protection.
Regrettably, this attitude that “it’s just part of the job” has an effect on more than just musicians. Others who are working in the music industry, from roadies to bartenders, are implicitly expected to buy into what is essentially an extremely harmful mindset.
Norms Are Changing
Thankfully, that’s changing for two major reasons. The first is a milestone case against the Royal Opera House in London. While in a particular performance, a viola player was placed directly in front of the brass section and exposed to over 130dB of sound. That’s roughly comparable to a full-blown jet engine!
In most cases, if you were going to be subjected to that amount of sound, you would be provided with hearing protection. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player experienced severe hearing impairment due to that lack of protection, damage that involved long bouts of tinnitus.
When the courts found The Royal Opera House negligent and ruled in favor of the viola player, they sent a signal that the music industry was no longer exempt from workplace hearing protection regulations, and that the industry should stop thinking of itself as a special case and instead invest in proper hearing protection for every employee and contractor involved.
Hearing Loss Doesn’t Have to be Unavoidable For Musicians
In the music business the number of individuals who are afflicted by tinnitus is staggeringly high. And that’s the reason that around the world there’s a campaign to raise awareness.
Everyone from rock star and their roadies to wedding Dj’s to classical musicians are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of loss of hearing, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. There is an escalating chance of having permanent injury the more acoustic shock a person endures.
You can be protected without inhibiting musical abilities by using earplugs that are specially designed for musicians or other cutting-edge hearing protection devices. Your hearing will be protected without decreasing the quality of sound.
Transforming The Music Culture
The right hearing protection equipment is available and ready. Changing the mindset in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. That’s a huge undertaking, but it’s one that’s currently showing some results. (The industry is getting a reality check with the decision against The Royal Opera House).
Tinnitus is very common in the industry. But it doesn’t need to be. Hearing loss should never be “part of the job,” regardless of what job you happen to have.
Do you play music professionally? Contact us to find out how to protect your hearing without hurting your performance.
As we get older, hearing loss is commonly thought to be a fact of life. Many older Americans suffer from some type of hearing loss or tinnitus, which is a persistent ringing in the ears. But if it’s such an accepted condition, why do so many people deny that they have loss of hearing?
A new study from Canada posits that more than half of all Canadians middle-aged and older cope with some kind of loss of hearing, but no issues were reported at all by more than 77% percent of those. Some kind of hearing loss is experienced by more than 48 million Americans and untreated. It’s up for debate whether this denial is on purpose or not, but the fact remains that a substantial number of individuals let their hearing loss go unchecked – which could cause substantial problems later on in life.
Why do Some People Not Recognize They Suffer From Hearing Loss?
It’s a complex matter. It’s a gradual process when somebody loses their hearing, and difficulty understanding people and hearing things go unnoticed. Many times they blame everyone else around them – they think that everyone is mumbling, volumes aren’t turned up loud enough, or background noise is too high. There are, unfortunately, quite a few things that hearing loss can be blamed on, and people’s first instinct is not normally going to be to get checked out or get a hearing test.
On the other hand, there might be some people who know they’re suffering from hearing loss but refuse to accept it. Another study conducted in the United States shows that many seniors who have hearing issues flat out deny it. They mask their issue in any way they can, either because they don’t want to admit to having a problem or because of perceived stigmas attached to hearing loss.
The concern with both of these situations is that by denying or not noticing you have a hearing problem you could actually be negatively affecting your general health.
Neglected Hearing Loss Can Have a Devastating Affect
Loss of hearing does not just impact your ears – high blood pressure and heart disease have also been linked to hearing loss as well as anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline.
Research has revealed that people suffering from hearing loss generally have shorter life expectancy rates and their level of health is not as good as others who have treated their hearing loss using hearing aids, dietary changes, or cognitive behavioral therapy.
It’s crucial to acknowledge the signs of hearing loss – difficulty having conversations, cranking up the volume on the TV and radio, or a persistent humming or ringing in your ears.
What Can be Done About Loss of Hearing?
You can control your hearing loss using a number of treatments. Hearing aids are the type of treatment that is the most common, and you won’t experience the same kinds of issues that your grandparents or parents did because hearing aid tech has advanced appreciably. Contemporary hearing aids come with Bluetooth connectivity so they can connect wirelessly to your smartphone or TV and they are capable of filtering out wind and background noise.
A dietary changes might also have a healthy impact on the health of your hearing if you have anemia. Since anemia iron deficiency has been shown to cause loss of hearing, people who suffer from tinnitus can be helped by eating foods that are high in iron.
Getting your hearing checked regularly, however, is the most important thing you can do.
Do you think that might have loss of hearing? Visit us and get checked.
When you have tinnitus, you learn to deal with it. You keep the television on to help you tune the constant ringing out. You avoid going dancing because the loudness of the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days after. You check in with specialists frequently to try out new therapies and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you work into your everyday way of life.
Tinnitus has no cure so you feel helpless. But that might be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology seems to provide hope that we may be getting closer to a permanent and effective cure for tinnitus.
Tinnitus normally manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus might be experienced as other sounds also) that do not have a concrete cause. A problem that affects over 50 million people in the United States alone, it’s incredibly common for people to suffer from tinnitus.
It’s also a symptom, generally speaking, and not a cause unto itself. Simply put, something causes tinnitus – there’s a root problem that brings about tinnitus symptoms. These root causes can be tough to diagnose and that’s one reason why a cure is challenging. Tinnitus symptoms can occur due to a number of reasons.
True, the majority of people attribute tinnitus to loss of hearing of some kind, but even that link is not clear. There is some relationship but there are some people who have tinnitus and don’t have any loss of hearing.
A New Culprit: Inflammation
Dr. Shaowen Bao, who is associate professor of physiology at Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon has recently released research. Mice that had tinnitus brought about by noise induced hearing loss were experimented on by Dr. Bao. And a new culprit for tinnitus was discovered by her and her team: inflammation.
Inflammation was found around the brain areas used for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. These tests suggest that noise-induced hearing loss is contributing to some unknown damage because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But this finding of inflammation also brings about the opportunity for a new form of therapy. Because handling inflammation is something we know how to do (in general). When the mice were given drugs that impeded the observed inflammation response, the symptoms of tinnitus disappeared. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
So is There a Pill to Treat Tinnitus?
If you take a long enough view, you can probably look at this research and see how, one day, there could definitely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–instead of counting on these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s certainly the objective, but there are numerous big obstacles in the way:
- To start with, these experiments were conducted on mice. This method isn’t approved yet for humans and it might be quite some time before that happens.
- We still need to establish whether any new approach is safe; it may take a while to identify precise side effects, complications, or challenges related to these particular medications that block inflammation.
- There are many causes for tinnitus; it’s really difficult to know (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some type.
So, a pill for tinnitus might be a long way off. But at least it’s now achievable. If you suffer from tinnitus today, that signifies a significant increase in hope. And other solutions are also being studied. Every new discovery, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus a little bit nearer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
If you have a continual ringing or buzzing in your ears today, the potential of a far off pill may provide you with hope – but not necessarily relief. Current treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Some techniques include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you dismiss the noises linked to your tinnitus. A cure could be several years away, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus on your own or unaided. Discovering a treatment that works can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Get in touch with us for a consultation now.
How often do you think about your nervous system? Most likely not all that regularly. Usually, you wouldn’t have to worry about how your neurons are communicating messages to the nerves of your body. But you tend to take a closer look when something isn’t working right and the nerves start to misfire.
There’s one specific condition, known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which can affect the nervous system on a relatively large scale, though the symptoms usually manifest mainly in the extremities. And there’s some evidence to suggest that CMT can also cause high-frequency loss of hearing.
Charot-Marie-Tooth Disease, What is it?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a set of inherited disorders. The protective sheathing surrounding the nerves malfunction due to a genetic disorder.
There is an issue with the way impulses move between your brain and your nerves. A loss of motor function and sensation can be the outcome.
A mixture of genetic factors usually leads to the appearance of symptoms, so CMT can be found in a few varieties. Symptoms of CMT commonly begin in the feet and work their way up to the arms. And, curiously, among those who have CMT, there is a higher rate of occurrence of high-frequency hearing loss.
The Cochlear Nerve: A Link Between CMT and Hearing Loss
There has always been an anecdotal link between loss of hearing and CMT (meaning that within the CMT culture everyone has heard other people tell stories about it). And it seemed to mystify people who had CMT – the ear didn’t appear very related to the loss of feeling in the legs, for example.
A scientific study firmly established the connection just recently when a group of researchers examined 79 people with CMT at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The results were quite decisive. Almost everyone with CMT passed their low and moderate frequency hearing exams with flying colors. But all of the individuals showed loss of hearing when it came to the high-frequency sounds (usually across the moderate levels). Based on this research, it seems probable that CMT can at least be connected to high-frequency loss of hearing.
The Cause of Hearing Loss and How to Treat It
The connection between high-frequency loss of hearing and CMT could, at first, seem perplexing. Like all other parts of your body rely on properly functioning nerves. Your ears are no different.
What the majority of researchers hypothesize occurs is that the cochlear nerve is impacted by the CMT – interfering with your ear’s ability to translate and transmit sounds in a high-frequency range. Anybody with this type of hearing loss will have a hard time hearing certain sounds, including people’s voices. Trying to understand voices in a crowded noisy room is especially hard.
This kind of hearing loss is usually managed with hearing aids. There’s no recognized cure for CMT. Modern hearing aids can provide tremendous help in terms of overcoming the effects of high-frequency hearing loss, selecting only those ranges of sounds to boost. Most modern hearing aids can also do well in loud settings.
There Could be Many Causes For Hearing Loss
Experts still aren’t entirely certain why CMT and loss of hearing seem to co-exist quite so frequently (above and beyond their untested hypothesis). But this kind of hearing loss can be efficiently managed with hearing aids. That’s why lots of individuals who have CMT will take the time to sit down with a hearing specialist and get a fitting for a custom hearing aid.
Hearing loss symptoms can occur for numerous reasons. Frequently, it’s an issue of loud sound causing damage to the ears. Blockages can be yet another cause. It also looks like CMT is another possible cause.
John’s having a hard time at work because he doesn’t always make out conversations. He’s in denial and continues telling himself that everyone is mumbling. He feels that you have to be old to use hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing test and has been steering clear of a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable damage to his ears. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging he has hearing loss has prevented him from getting effective treatments.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his viewpoints are antiquated. Because the stigma around hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. Specifically, with younger people, it’s far less pronounced, even though you may still encounter it to some extent in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
The cultural and social associations with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, not true and not helpful. Loss of vitality and aging are oftentimes associated with loss of hearing. The concern is that you’ll lose some social status if you disclose you have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you seem old or not as “cool”.
You could be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous issue, detached from reality. But there are certain very real implications for individuals who are trying to cope with the stigma of hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Difficulties in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Obstacles in your occupation (maybe you didn’t hear a significant sentence in a company meeting).
- Putting off management of hearing loss (leading to needless troubled and undesirable results).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are quite a few more examples but the point is well made.
Fortunately, changes are happening, and it genuinely does seem as if the stigma over hearing loss is on its way out.
The Passing of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are a number of substantial reasons why hearing loss stigma is on the decline. Population demographics are transforming as is our perception of technology.
More Younger Adults Are Suffering From Hearing Loss
Younger adults are dealing with hearing loss more often and that could very well be the biggest reason for the decline in the stigma connected to it.
Most statistical studies put the number of people with loss of hearing in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 in 10 people. Most likely, loud sounds from many modern sources are the primary reason why this loss of hearing is more widespread than ever before.
There’s more discussion and knowledge about hearing loss as it becomes more widespread.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you were concerned that your first pair of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted using them. But now hearing aids almost completely blend in. No one really even sees them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever before and in most cases are very subtle.
But hearing aids also typically go unobserved because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody cares if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
Obviously, those two factors are not the only causes for the retreat of hearing loss stigma. Much more is generally understood about loss of hearing and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss situations.
There will continue to be less stigma about loss of hearing the more we see it in the world. Now, of course, we want to prevent loss of hearing in every way that we can. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while battling against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel secure scheduling an appointment with their professionals and undergoing regular exams. This will keep people hearing better and improve general hearing health.
People normally don’t like change. Looked at through that prism, hearing aids can be a double-edged sword: they create an exciting new world of sounds for you, but they also signify a considerable transformation of your life. If your someone who likes a very rigid routine, the change can be difficult. New hearing aids can create a few distinct challenges. But knowing how to adapt to these devices can help make sure your new hearing aids will be a change you will welcome.
Here Are Some Quick Suggestion to Adjust to Your New Hearing Aids
Your hearing will be considerably enhanced whether you are moving to your first hearing aids or upgrading to a more powerful design. Dependant on your individual circumstances, that may be a big adjustment. Following these tips might make your transition a little more comfortable.
When You First Get Your Hearing Aids Only Wear Them Intermittently
The more you use your hearing aids, as a basic rule, the healthier your ears will be. But if you’re breaking in your very first pair, wearing your devices for 18 hours a day can be a little uncomfortable. You might try to build up your stamina by beginning with 8 hours and increasing from there.
Listen to Conversations For Practice
When you first start using your hearing aids, your brain will likely need some time to get used to the idea that it can hear sounds again. You could have a hard time making out speech clearly or following conversations during this adjustment time. But if you want to reset the hearing-language-and-interpreting region of your brain, you can try doing exercises like reading along with an audiobook.
Spend The Time to Get a Hearing Aid Fitting
Even before you get your final hearing aid, one of the first things you will do – is go through a fitting process. The fitting procedure helps adjust the device to your individual loss of hearing, differences in the size and shape of your ear canal, and help enhance comfort. You could need to have more than one adjustment. It’s crucial to be serious about these fittings – and to consult us for follow-up appointments. When your hearing aids fit well, your devices will sit more comfortably and sound more natural. We can also help you make adjustments to various hearing environments.
Sometimes adapting to a new hearing aid is a bit difficult because something’s not working properly. If there is too much feedback that can be uncomfortable. It can also be frustrating when the hearing aid keeps cutting out. It can be overwhelming to adapt to hearing aids because of these types of issues, so it’s a good idea to find solutions as soon as you can. Try these tips:
- If you notice a lot of feedback, make sure that your hearing aids are properly sitting in your ears (it might be that your fit is just a bit off) and that there are no obstructions (earwax for instance).
- Consult your hearing expert to be certain that the hearing aids are properly calibrated to your loss of hearing.
- Discuss any buzzing or ringing with your hearing expert. At times, your cell phone can cause interference with your hearing aid. In other situations, it may be that we have to make some adjustments.
- Charge your hearing aids every night or replace the batteries. When the batteries on your hearing aids begin to diminish, they often don’t perform as effectively as they’re intended to.
The Benefits of Adapting to Your New Hearing Aids
Just as it could with new glasses, it may possibly take you a small amount of time to adapt to your new hearing aids. Hopefully, you will have a smoother and quicker transition with these tips. But if you stick with it – if you get yourself into a regimen with your hearing aids and really invest in adjusting to them – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how it all becomes easy. And once that takes place, you’ll be capable of devoting your attention to the things you’re actually hearing: like your favorite programs or music or the daily interactions you’ve missed. These sounds will remind you that all those adjustments are worth it ultimately. And change is good.