Hearing is an amazing human ability. It allows us to communicate with other people, receive important information, experience emotions, and just enjoy our favorite sounds (birds chirping, music, or the sound of rain). Unfortunately, people don’t realize how important good hearing is to lead a happy life.
More and more Americans experience hearing loss every year. Despite the abundance of reasons that gave rise to its development, the result is the same for all. It’s a significant deterioration in the quality of life. Fortunately, advances in modern audiology make it possible to restore hearing in most cases. The main condition for recovery is to seek help in time. But as our experience shows, people do not always visit a specialist at the first onset of symptoms of the problem. As a result, they develop auditory deprivation, which significantly aggravates their condition and worsens the prognosis for recovery.
What is auditory deprivation?
To answer the question, you need to understand how our auditory system functions. All sounds that we hear are vibrations of air of varying loudness and pitch. Once in the ears, they excite receptors (hairs) in the inner ear. The organ converts these vibrations into an electrical impulse. Further, through the auditory nerve, the impulses enter the brain. This is how the brain processes the incoming information and forms the “sounds”, which we perceive.
Thus, a person does not hear with his ears. Rather, they are a device for collecting and transmitting information to the brain, which processes the received signal. It turns out that hearing is a process of perception, processing, and formation of subjective sensations, which is the result of the joint work of the brain and hearing organs.
The brain is a unique structure that always adapts to changes and new conditions. And as we know, hearing loss is often not an instant process. On the contrary, you can gradually lose your hearing and not notice the changes taking place until someone around you points out the problem.
At this point, the brain begins to rely less on sounds and reduces the activity of its departments responsible for processing them, due to the lack of stimulation. It’s called auditory deprivation. The process does not happen overnight but develops in parallel with hearing loss, for which no appropriate measures have been taken.
What are the main causes of auditory deprivation? Dr. Stella Fulman identifies two main factors in the development of the problem.
A dalayed visit to an audiologist
Hearing loss develops gradually, and for this reason, a person cannot always seek help at an early stage in the development of the problem. However, many Americans continue to ignore the problem even when symptoms are evident. Some are sure that hearing will recover on its own, others try not to pay attention to the health problems that have arisen. But in all cases, hearing loss and auditory deprivation only progress.
Failure to follow the advice of hearing care professional
At Audiology Island, we often encounter patient non-compliance with treatment guidelines. Some of them don’t wear the hearing aids they need. Others only wear one device, although they have problems with both ears.
Of course, such an approach does not lead to anything good. What can brain atrophy from untreated hearing loss lead to? It is not difficult to guess that it’s a further impairment of hearing. The brain will spend less of its ability to process impulses coming from the ears, and switch to other senses. However, this situation can be corrected.
How to treat auditory deprivation?
As I already mentioned, hearing loss and brain are closely related. Therefore, by eliminating the problem with hearing, we’ll help the brain to restore proper functioning. How to do it?
First, you need to ask for help. If you or your loved one is having hearing problems, you should seek help right away. Delay will not restore hearing, but will only complicate treatment and increase recovery time.
Next, you need to undergo a diagnostic hearing evaluation. The audiologist will conduct all the necessary tests. The results will help determine the type and degree of hearing loss, as well as treatment options.
The third step is hearing restoration activities. In most cases, hearing care professionals prescribe the use of hearing aids. Of course, a professional should handle the selection and configuration of devices. The doctor will select the most suitable model, taking into account your type of hearing loss, individual characteristics, and personal wishes. There is a wide variety of devices on the market today. They differ from each other in styles, sizes, designs, and additional features. So absolutely, anyone can choose a model to achieve maximum comfort and confidence.
Hearing aids will always be with you and this important point should be considered for more comfortable use of the device. For example, if you are into active sports, then the in the canal (ITC) or completely in the canal (CIC) model might suit you better
The price of hearing aids also varies. Therefore, you can always buy inexpensive hearing aids and not take a hit on your or your family’s budget. Follow all the tips for adapting to new devices and these small devices will quickly become your indispensable helpers!
Auditory deprivation treatment is primarily up to you. Your brain will quickly regain lost power if you follow all of your audiologist’s recommendations and use your hearing aids all day. You’ll hear great and will forget about past problems.
Preventive measures. Stop auditory deprivation before it starts.
Any health problem is better prevented than treated. Auditory deprivation is no exception. Brain atrophy develops along with hearing loss. Therefore, the best prevention is hearing testing, even if you are sure you are not experiencing any problems.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends testing your hearing according to the following schedule:
If you are under 50, you should have your hearing tested every 10 years
If you are over 50 years old, you should have your hearing tested every 3 years
Hearing loss treatment will be most effective in the early stages. People’s reluctance to seek help for developing such a problem is a national problem. Using a hearing aid will help make your life more fulfilling and will prevent the areas of your brain that process auditory information from becoming less active.
Sound is an integral part of our world. The lost ability to hear affects many areas in a person’s life, developing physiological and psychological disorders. Don’t let this happen! Take care of your hearing health, and your life will always shine with happy colors!
About Dr Stella Fulman
Dr. Stella Fulman, AU.D., CCC-A received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Audiology from Brooklyn College in 2004 and her Doctorate of Audiology from Salus University in 2008. [ Learn More ]