Patients often ask if they need to wear their hearing devices all the time, and the answer is yes. Even if you are just sitting at home in the quiet, there are still sounds in your environment that are stimulating your brain. It can take time for you to become accustomed to new sounds that you may have not heard in a while. This brain stimulation is most important when it comes to cognition and understanding.
There has been a lot of research conducted on hearing loss and cognitive decline. Researchers first uncovered a link between dementia and hearing loss in the elderly nearly three decades ago, in a 1989 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Conclusive study outcomes have proven individuals with untreated hearing loss are at a higher risk of dementia (five times greater) than individuals with normal hearing, according to Frank Lin with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 2011. A prominent finding from this study revealed that those with hearing loss who wore hearing aids had better outcomes and a lower rate of cognitive decline than those who did not.
We also know hearing loss has a significant negative impact on quality of life. Individuals with hearing loss tend to isolate themselves more, miss important conversations and feel embarrassed when they mishear what is being said.
Auditory deprivation is a term that refers to long-term lack of stimulation to the hearing system. According to the Hearing Review, individuals will wait an average of seven years from the day they are diagnosed with a significant and treatable hearing loss to the day they are fitted with amplification. During this critical time period, auditory deprivation can occur. Oftentimes, patients’ ability to understand words decline because the connection (auditory nerve) between the ear and the brain is not stimulated properly. By providing the brain with a clearer signal through amplification, we can reduce the risk of this auditory deprivation.
Why wait to get help? Use it or lose it!
– Dr. Haiden Nunn joined North Georgia Audiology in 2018. She earned her doctorate from the University of Louisville and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia.