The Importance Of Using A Hearing Aid Early
Is there anyone you know who seems to have hearing problems, even from time to time? It is important that anyone and everyone who has hearing impairments, especially when it has gotten to a degree where it disrupts daily aspects of their lives, should seek medical help, and start using hearing aids.
Should you know someone with hearing problems, this article will help you better understand the importance of hearing and problems associated with hearing loss, and how hearing aids can help with that.
Why Is Hearing So Important?
Hearing is involved in every single aspect of our lives. It includes enjoying our favourite TV shows, listening to music, talking with our friends, and loved ones – hearing is always and has always been an integral part of our daily lives, even though it is easy for us to take the gift of hearing for granted.
But hearing is not only just meant for social purposes. Ambient sounds such as waterfall sound help with the appreciation of our surroundings, or even those that indicate danger like car honks, are all good reasons as to why hearing is important.
The thing about most types of hearing loss is that it happens gradually, so the person might tend to dismiss it as a once-in-a-while thing, or they might not realise it themselves, hence delaying and choosing not to seek medical attention. By the time it is obvious, their hearing would have already deteriorated significantly.
What Are The Different Types Of Hearing Loss?
There are 3 types of hearing loss:
Sensorineural hearing loss,
Conductive hearing loss, and
Mixed hearing loss (both above)
1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the auditory nerve (the nerve that connects the inside of your ear to your brain) is damaged and its function is impaired, so even if your ear picks up the sound, it does not get properly transmitted to your brain and recognised.
2. Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss happens when something is either physically blocking the ear canal or outer or middle ear, or it could be other medical reasons that result in the reduction in the number of sound waves that can be picked up by the inner ear. Common causes usually include a build-up of earwax or ear infections.
3. Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
Similarly, if one is experiencing any ear discharge, it is recommended to temporarily discontinue the usage of hearing aids as the fluids may also cause further ear infections. The moisture in the ear canal makes the environment perfect for possibly harmful bacteria to thrive. Bacteria that can cause infection will have a negative effect on our hearing. The resulting pain, swelling or discharge from infections can make it difficult to wear hearing aids. This can put a pause on stimulations including hearing, daily conversations, and our social lives.
Hearing aid cleanliness goes beyond just cleaning. It is also important to keep our hearing aids dry and store them in suitable conditions. Read on to find out how to keep different types of hearing aids clean and dry.
What Happens If I Continue To Have Bad Hearing?
Even if it’s only a mild to moderate hearing loss, there are some very serious consequences to having a bad hearing. Audiologists urge people to get fitted with hearing aids as soon as possible because of these potential social and health setbacks.
1. Social Isolation
Because the person can’t hear clearly what others might be saying consistently, in a way that they miss out on critical information or has to keep asking people to repeat what they’re saying, it naturally leads to people avoiding conversations with them and gradually the person talks to fewer people and becomes more prone to social isolation. This may also increase the likelihood of developing depression.
Believe it or not, research has shown that there may be a link between hearing loss and dementia, meaning that hearing loss is directly correlated to having dementia. In a 2011 study conducted by John Hopkins University in the USA, hearing loss has been identified as an important risk factor of dementia. The study has shown that patients with hearing loss were two to five times more likely to develop dementia, depending on the severity of their hearing problem. Other studies, including one from Singapore, also arrived at a similar conclusion.
There are various theories that explain the link between hearing loss and dementia. Firstly, certain diseases can accelerate both cognitive decline and hearing loss, especially those that cause the narrowing of blood vessels in the brain. Secondly, the increased cognitive resources diverted to understand what one is hearing can result in lesser cognitive reserves being available for memory and other mental functions. Lastly, as mentioned above, hearing loss results in social isolation, which is a severe risk factor for dementia.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but we should all be aware that hearing loss can have a significant impact on a person’s life and are often silent – people don’t know the problems are happening until it has manifested fully. At that point, it might be too late for the patient to live their lives like they used to.
What Should People With Hearing Loss Do To Seek Help?
Oftentimes, many people think of going to hospitals to seek help for their hearing loss. Another alternative is to visit private clinics, where trained audiologists provide comprehensive hearing tests to diagnose the patient’s degree of hearing loss, then provide advice for the right course of action, whether it is hearing aids or referrals to Ear, Nose, Throat Specialist.
How Do Hearing Aids Work?
If the hearing loss is permanent, hearing aids are the most efficient solution for a person with a hearing impairment. There are many different styles of hearing aids, but they are custom-fitted to every patient’s hearing loss and lifestyle, and the patient can also choose the colour to suit their preferences.
Hearing aids contain a microphone, which picks up surrounding sounds and transmit them into a microphone that is put inside the person’s ear canal. Essentially, hearing aids help to amplify the sound so that its user can hear them. Better hearing aids are also capable of minimising or cancelling out background noise to give the wearer a higher-quality hearing experience.
Why Are There People Who Don’t Use Hearing Aids?
Now that you’ve understood why it is so dangerous to leave hearing loss as it is, as well as how to seek help, why are there still people with hearing loss refusing to use hearing devices?
They are too expensive
They don’t think their level of diminished hearing ability warrants a hearing aid
Using hearing aids acknowledges that they’re old and less competent – a common social stigma associated with hearing loss
They don’t look nice
They are troublesome to use
They are uncomfortable