By Glen Sutherland, MCISc
Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your summer.
My last post before our summer recess talked about sensori-neural hearing loss. If you have not already done so, you might find it helpful to read my previous posts.
Sensori-neural hearing loss, typically referred to as “nerve deafness”, occurs when damage most often occurs in the “inner” ear but can also occur along the hearing nerve. Approximately 90% of people who have hearing impairment have sensori-neural hearing loss, making it the most common type of hearing impairment. Generally speaking, sensori-neural hearing loss is permanent and irreversible.
Treating any hearing loss depends on prompt diagnosis and treatment. All hearing losses should be evaluated by an audiologist and physician to explore all potential treatment options.
In the vast majority of cases, sensori-neural hearing loss is not medically or surgically treatable. However, most people with sensori-neural loss notice a great deal of benefit from wearing some form of amplification device (hearing aids, bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA), cochlear implants, etc.).
The majority of people with sensori-neural hearing loss benefit from wearing hearing aids.
Unfortunately, only 15 – 20% of people who require hearing aids use them. My next few posts will focus on hearing aids, how they can help you (if you need them); why you need to start wearing them sooner than later; and how to buy hearing aids that are best for you.
Hearing aids can improve the quality of your life. If you have found out that you have a sensori-neural hearing loss and are going to buy hearing aids to help you, there are several factors to consider in choosing the best devices to help you in all sorts of day-to-day listening situations. The more you know, the better your decision will be in choosing hearing aids which are best for you!
The extent of improvement to your hearing is directly proportional to:
1. how much difficulty you are having: the more difficulties you are experiencing, the harder it will be for the hearing aids to restore your hearing to near normal, and,
2. the length of time that you’ve had a hearing loss: the longer you’ve had a hearing loss, the longer it will take for your brain to adjust to sounds heard through hearing aids.
Understanding speech is a brain function. When you put on hearing aids for the first time you’ll begin hearing sounds you haven’t heard in some time, including speech and many unwanted background sounds. Your brain actually has to re-learn how to hear all these sounds and how to filter the sounds you want to hear, like speech, from background sounds so you can hear speech better than background sounds.
While the hearing aids will eventually help you a great deal, it takes training and patience to improve your ability to understand through hearing aids. In fact, research indicates that it takes the brain several months to adjust to listening through hearing aids.
However, in time you will adjust well to your new hearing aids which will increase your ability to participate more fully in day-to-day listening activities.
Factors to consider in choosing hearing aids include, but are not limited to:
• Cost of the hearing aids,
• The level of sophistication of hearing aids: hearing aids are now offered in levels (entry, advanced and premium), offering advanced features so the hearing aids can be tailored to more effectively meet your specific needs,
• Styles and sizes of hearing aids: you no longer have to be self-conscious about wearing hearing instruments, there are a variety of styles to suit everyone and every situation,
• Ease of use for you, and,
• Hearing aids accessories (remote control devices, Bluetooth technology, etc.) to further help you in different listening situations.
In the next few posts, I will provide you more information about each of these factors in hopes of helping you buy the best hearing aids for you and helping you adjust to the hearing aids with realistic expectations.
Please note that the information in this blog is presented for the purpose of providing information and should not be used for medical diagnosis or treatment nor should it be used in place of medical advice from your doctor or hearing health care professional.