By: Dr. Gina Diaz, Clinical Audiologist
Hearing loss usually occurs in a slow and progressive manner, which commonly allows a person to “compensate” and/or experience subtle difficulties hearing in the early stages. Even after diagnosis, most individuals wait too long before they invest in treatment options, or they invest in hearing devices but do not wear them consistently.
Why is this a problem? Two words, Auditory Deprivation. You actually hear with your brain. Your ears gather sound and send it your brain to process and understand speech.
It is your brain….
- that uses the information from your ears to localize sound
- that allows you to recognize and interpret sounds
- helps you focus on a conversation
- helps you filter and separate unwanted noise
All four of these tasks (localization, recognition, focus, and separation) are happening simultaneously and continuously inside your brain. Depriving your brain of proper stimulation obtained through hearing devices, will eventually cause you to have great difficulty with these tasks.
If hearing loss goes untreated for too long, the auditory parts of the brain may be “reassigned” to other functions, causing a decrease in your ability to understand speech. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more the brain has trouble understanding and processing information. Untreated hearing loss deprives the brain of important sound stimuli. This deprivation has been linked to irreversible brain deterioration and accelerated brain shrinkage.
How do you prevent auditory deprivation before it starts?
- Be proactive! The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends that adults get a hearing screening every 10 years up until age 50 and then every three years thereafter. Even if you do not have any hearing complaints, you should have a hearing test completed to serve as a baseline.
- If you have hearing devices, wear them consistently to provide your brain the proper stimulation.
If you or a loved one are struggling with hearing loss, or have put off the decision to move forward with hearing devices, schedule an updated hearing test and consultation with one of our Doctors of Audiology today.