Can hearing aids slow hearing loss?
When one of our patients came in with questions inspired by a timely article on hearing loss, addressing his concerns helped convince him to seek the treatment he needed. If you’re on the fence about seeking care, we’re sharing answers to some common questions to help you move forward on your better-hearing journey.
Q: Is hearing loss really that big a deal?
A: Yes! Hearing loss not only affects your ability to communicate at home, work, and play but is linked to other problems such as social isolation, dementia, cardiovascular disease, depression, income loss, and falls. The sooner it’s addressed, the sooner you can improve your overall wellness and quality of life.
Q: Isn’t hearing loss simply inevitable with aging?
A: Age-related hearing loss is common but not inevitable. Hearing loss can also be due to other factors such as head trauma, ear infection, earwax buildup, certain medications, or other sources. Many people don’t realize that one of the most common — and preventable — causes is excess noise exposure.
Q: Is it true that sensorineural hearing loss worsens over time?
A: Yes. The good news? This type of hearing loss, which involves damage to the inner ear or to the nerve pathways that transmit sound from the inner ear to the brain, can be effectively managed with properly fit hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Q: Can hearing aids slow hearing loss?
A: Nothing on the market can actually slow or reverse hearing damage, but today’s advanced hearing technology can make a big difference in your ability to listen in various settings. Also, taking care of your hearing with quality, properly fit hearing protection can help prevent noise-related hearing loss.
Q: Should I hold off on hearing loss treatment until I have an MRI?
A: That depends on your specific type of hearing loss, determined through a diagnostic exam. If the hearing loss appears to be sensorineural and is affecting only one ear, your provider may first want an MRI to determine whether a tumor or some other growth is the underlying cause.
Q: Can a mathematical formula determine how much my hearing would improve percentage-wise?
A: No such formula currently exists, but your highly trained provider can determine which treatment would most effectively help you hear your best — based on your type and degree of hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your unique communication needs.
Q: Is it true that hearing loss negatively impacts the brain?
A: Causes and effects aren’t yet conclusive, but studies show that hearing loss and brain decline — including accelerated brain shrinkage, increased dementia risk, earlier start of significant cognitive problems, and other conditions — can go hand in hand.
Q: Is it true that sound deprivation can cause the hearing nerves to decline?
A: Studies have borne this out. Just as other muscles might atrophy or weaken from underuse, so can your hearing. The reduced input of sound to the hearing system and brain can lead to auditory deprivation, which involves the reduced ability to process sound because of reduced access to sound.
Q: What could I expect to hear in the first few days and weeks after getting fitted with hearing aids?
A: Just as hearing loss is often gradual, so is the change to better hearing. Some sounds — even your own voice — may seem off or unfamiliar at first. With patience, practice, and time, your ears and brain can adjust and interpret the sounds you’ve been missing.
Q: What tips can help me cope with the different sounds I would be hearing for the first time in years?
A: Take it slow, and remember you’re not alone. Limit background noise such as the TV or radio when talking with others, and know that some situations — a noisy concert, for example — are naturally more challenging. Also, sharing your observations can help your provider adjust the hearing aids as needed.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Today’s cutting-edge hearing technology includes rechargeables, which can provide long-lasting hearing power throughout the day and convenient charging at night as you sleep. If the battery gets depleted during the day, even a quick charging of just 30 minutes can provide hours of power.
- Hearing aids have come a long way in curbing unwanted sounds — whether wind noise, feedback, or background bustle. Built-in directional mics and noise suppression help you hear clearer even in challenging environments, and some accessories bring sound directly to your hearing aids!
- Hearing protection can be customized to fit comfortably and snugly in your ears, helping shield your ears from sounds in the danger zone of 85 decibels or higher. Examples of potentially harmful noise sources include fireworks, music concerts, gas lawnmowers, motorcycles, MP3 players, and more.
Better hearing can make a big difference in your life, so don’t let barriers stand in your way. If you have questions, we’re here to help. Contact our caring team today!