Hearing Aids; Why Hearing Aids are Essential For a Hearing Loss.
A hearing aid does more than help you hear. It also helps your brain remember the sounds you cannot hear without your hearing aid.
Untreated hearing loss affects your quality of life, but it also affects the brain’s ability to remember common sounds because the hearing channels are no longer effectively used.
We hear with our brain, not with our ears. The ear transmits frequencies and intensities to the inner ear which contains approximately 15 000 microscopic hair cells.
These hair cells transmit nerve impulses to the brain stem and into the acoustic imaging centres in the cerebral cortex of the opposite temporal lobe.
The high frequencies are usually affected in a sensorineural loss. A person has difficulty in hearing high-frequency consonants like F, TH, and S. This person cannot hear the difference between the words “shin”, “skin”, “sin”, “pin”, etc. and may also not hear a high pitched doorbell, telephone or the signal lights in the car. This person may also have difficulty in understanding speech – they believe that everyone mumbles or that people don’t speak as clearly as they used to.
When the nerve endings in the inner ear (cochlea) lose their function and no longer channel nerve impulses to the brain, the brain “forgets” the sounds over a period of time and becomes unable to understand them.
The brain stores sounds and noises for up to three years following the onset of a hearing loss. But after about seven years, the memory becomes weaker and weaker.
Therefore, it is important to have your hearing tested and hearing devices fitted when you find that you are losing some of your hearing. Once you have a hearing device fitted, the hearing processing resumes supplying signals to the brain.
If the fitting of a hearing device is seriously delayed, however, not even a hearing device will be able to transform the incoming sound signals into understandable information. This means that the brain no longer recognises some ordinary everyday sounds and noises, such as the ticking of clocks, etc. The brain has to learn to hear all over again.
There is no cure for noise-damaged hearing. Using hearing devices, however, can greatly improve what you hear. Although they will not restore your hearing to what it was when you were young, hearing aids make the most of the hearing that you still have and can improve the quality of your life.