All Ears Betty Vosters - Kemp
Auditory Deprivation: What You Need To Know Hearing loss is the nation’s number one disability. You can’t see it or feel it, but one in ten Americans suffers from gradual hearing loss. Only four million people in the United States actually allow themselves to benefit from today’s modern hearing devices and are happy with their hearing aids. Close to four million others have purchased hearing aids but are dissatisfied and don’t wear them regularly. Another 34 million Americans need hearing instruments but cannot bring themselves to get the help they need. Many people who develop hearing or clarity problems do nothing about it. In fact, the average American waits five to ten years before seeking help. What people don’t realize is the longer you go with an untreated hearing loss, the more difficult it is to correct. Most people simply don’t know what they are missing. That’s why they wait so long to get the help they need. They develop coping strategies by using visual cues and the brain to piece information together. This creates unnecessary stress in a person’s life, both for themselves and their loved ones. When you hear, your brain interprets the size or amplification of the sound waves that reverberate against our eardrums. As you grow older, a gradual deterioration occurs deep within the inner ear along the nerve endings that carry the impulses to the brain. It may surprise you to know that this deterioration may begin as early as the age of 30. Over the years, the brain actually loses its ability to process sounds that it no longer hears. It forgets how to make sense of these sounds. The saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it” applies here. This phenomenon is known as auditory deprivation. Even when those forgotten sounds are reintroduced through amplification, the brain may not be able to effectively use this new information. Sounds may be amplified but do not give the needed clarity to understand speech easily. For example, one person with gradual hearing loss comes in and is fit with hearing instruments. Their speech understanding improves from 72% unaided to 96% aided. Another person with a similar hearing loss may wait several years longer because they feel they are getting by. Their hearing is not bad enough. When finally fitted with hearing instruments, their understanding improves from 60% to 76%. Who do you think is happier with their hearing aids? The first person who didn’t wait as long is happier because they hear more clearly, That’s one of the reasons why everyone’s experience with hearing aids is so different.
Senior Magazine – July 2011 At this point in time, there is no medication or surgery that can restore the lost hearing. However, if you don’t wait too long, we can overcome this weakness in the hearing system by using hearing instruments. I like to think of hearing aids as exercise machines that stimulate the remaining nerve endings and the brain. Hearing instruments enhance what is left of your hearing. And, they actually preserve or maintain your ability to process sounds and make sense of conversation. As long as you continue to stimulate what’s left of your hearing, you can expect to understand quite well even if your hearing changes over time. The secret is to keep your current hearing aids adjusted and programmed to match your hearing loss. Just the other day, one of my patients came in with her three year old instruments. She was only getting 64% understanding. After testing her hearing and reprogramming her instruments, I was able to bring her up to 88% speech understanding. She left my office much happier! With today’s technologies, you don’t have to struggle with conversations as long as you haven’t suffered from too much auditory deprivation. Custom made hearing instruments designed specifically for you and your loss may bring back many of the subtle sounds you have been missing. Hearing instruments come in a variety of circuits ranging from conventional devices that amplify everything equally to sophisticated digital instruments that continuously self-adjust to your surroundings. If you choose not to stimulate your hearing, research has shown likeliness in speech recognition dropping over the years. The longer you wait to stimulate what’s left of your hearing, the less help may be available. Putting off the decision to get hearing help, even if you think your hearing loss isn’t bad enough, is actually detrimental to you and your loved ones. Truly, the best way to deal with a hearing problem is to take action! If you suspect a hearing loss, even a mild loss, have a thorough hearing test. Find out what you are missing and whether you would benefit from modern hearing technology, now. Don’t let negative beliefs or someone else’s bad experience keep you from getting the information and help you need.
Author’s Bio Betty Vosters-Kemp, BC-HIS, has been in the hearing healthcare field for over 31 years. She is an author, trainer, presenter and a columnist for 21 years with Senior Magazine. Betty is the Co-Owner of Avalon Hearing Aid Centers, Inc. and committed to changing the way people feel about hearing loss.
Sacramento: 1260 Fulton Avenue, Suite B Fair Oaks: 8146 Greenback Lane, Suite 100 Woodland: 433 Second Street, Suite 104 Call (916) 483-9064 Or visit my website - www.AvalonHearing.com