Why should I wear hearing aids when I struggle to hear? What is AUDITORY DEPRIVATION?
Simply put, you either use your hearing or you lose it! So what does that mean, you may ask.
Well, when we have a hearing loss, the hearing nerves and areas of the brain responsible for hearing are deprived of sound. This deprivation may lead to atrophy (weakening) of these auditory systems. We call this phenomenon ‘Auditory deprivation’.
You may not realize that your hearing has been impaired, since hearing loss is often gradual, especially as we are getting older. The key to hearing better for longer is to keep the auditory system active, thus preventing atrophy. Almost like going to the gym to keep your body fit.
So when was this first noticed? Auditory deprivation was first observed during the mid- to late- 1970’s. Back then, it was common practice to only fit one hearing aid, even if the person had a hearing loss in both ears. Why buy two if you can get by with only one? It was realized that the ear that was not fitted with a hearing aid had progressive deterioration over a few years, especially in speech-recognition ability! You don’t want that!
Today there’s a growing number of detailed studies that clinically demonstrate that people with hearing loss do better addressing the limitation when they act quickly. Evidence also suggests that sensory deprivation occurs more often with a moderate-to-severe (sensorineural) hearing loss.
So what do you do? You want to keep your auditory pathways active and NOT let it pine away due to a lack of stimulation. In other words, the first time your family complains about your hearing abilities, it’s time for a hearing test.
To check your hearing ability, do the quick hearing test questionnaire on my website. Then make your appointment, if needed, with the hearing professional and leave the worrying part to us.
A hearing test may not always result in the buying of hearing aids. But if needed, the hearing aids will prevent auditory deprivation and you will enjoy a better quality of hearing for longer. The longer that loss in either ear is ignored, the more deterioration there will be in speech processing ability.
Compiled by: Liesel van der Merwe
Ebber, M.B. Review of late-onset auditory deprivation and clinical implications. The Hearing Journal. Volume 52, Number 11, November 1999.
Silman, S. Auditory deprivation: Are two aided ears better than one?. Hearing Instruments. Volume 45, Number 1, 1994.