The Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
While some 48 million Americans are living with hearing loss, only about 10% of those who could benefit from hearing aids are currently wearing them. On average, people tend to wait seven years from the time they notice hearing loss to the time they make an appointment for a hearing test and do something about it. Stigmas surrounding hearing loss often contribute to reluctance to start wearing hearing aids.
However, when asked after one year of wearing them, about 95% of people say they’re glad they got hearing aids. It may take up to a year for those who have been living with untreated hearing loss to realize just how much they have been missing. Hearing loss usually comes on slowly, and so the effects it has on our life also happen slowly. Likewise, once we start wearing hearing aids, it can take a while for the benefits to be realized. While hearing aids do indeed start working right away, they do not change our lives overnight.
But change our lives, they do! Hearing aids can bring positive changes to multiple areas of life. If you’ve been living with untreated hearing loss for a while, some of these benefits might sound pretty good to you.
Regain the Ability to Comprehend Speech, Improve Memory
When we have untreated hearing loss, the auditory cortex in our brain starts to atrophy. It’s not that brain cells die, but the grey matter between the cells starts to dissipate, and the structure sort of collapses. This means that even when we start wearing hearing aids, we can still have trouble understanding what’s being said when people talk to us, even though we can hear clearly what they’re saying.
Those with untreated hearing loss tend to self-report having memory trouble more frequently than those with normal hearing or those who wear hearing aids. This is likely because of the brain atrophy that occurs. The auditory cortex is closely tied to our short-term memory, so when we’re not understanding speech as rapidly and automatically as we once did, we tend to have more difficulty remembering what we hear.
Once we start wearing hearing aids, we can retrain our brains to understand speech again. And once our auditory cortex starts working to automatically interpret the speech we hear, it moves immediately to short-term memory. So while a set of hearing aids may not improve your speech comprehension and memory on the first day you start wearing them, over time you are very likely to see improvement in these areas. Training classes are available for new wearers who can use some help getting back their ability to understand speech.
Strengthen Relationships with Partners and Loved Ones
Hearing loss doesn’t only affect the people who have it. While it is frustrating to live with hearing loss, it can be almost as frustrating to live with someone else who has hearing loss. There is a clear consequence when communication becomes more difficult: We start communicating less! Intimacy in relationships is built on frequent communication and understanding between both parties. When we reduce our communication to only the most necessary bits, we lose out on a world of companionship.
It’s not only that communication suffers, but that personality changes tend to come along with hearing loss. Those with untreated hearing loss are more likely to be irritable, anxious, or avoidant than those with hearing aids. As much as those who are close to someone with hearing loss remind themselves not to take it personally, it can wear us down over time.
Once you get hearing aids, you will likely be able to communicate just about as easily as you did before hearing loss became an issue. You’ll see how being able to hear again will make a major difference in your ability to connect with others.
There’s a long list of ways in which hearing aids can change your life for the better! Just like everyone’s hearing loss and priorities are different, there may be ways that hearing aids improve your life that is different from someone else’s.
Those who get hearing aids tend to be more self-confident and optimistic than those with untreated hearing loss. They regain a sense of independence as they feel more comfortable moving around the world. Because they feel better able to navigate the world, they tend to have higher levels of physical activity, which improves physical health and prevents disease. They’re even less likely to suffer from an earlier onset of cognitive decline and dementia.
If you’ve been on the fence about whether hearing aids are right for you, rest assured that hearing aids will have benefits to your health and well-being that you might never have imagined. Make an appointment for a hearing test today and see the difference for yourself!
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