HearCare RI - Acknowledging the Reality of Hearing Loss

Acknowledging the Reality of Hearing Loss

In hearing health, hearing loss by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Nobody wants to get the news that they have hearing loss. Hearing loss creates challenges in many parts of everyday life. Living with hearing loss means overcoming obstacles at home and at work, with our friends and family and often with our favorite activities and pastimes. While a hearing loss diagnosis can be unwelcome, there is good news.

Through acknowledging and treating your hearing loss you can lessen the negative impact it has on your life. By contrast, ignoring your hearing loss and allowing it to go untreated can significantly worsen the state of your hearing. When you learn you have hearing loss, take action towards better hearing, it is a gift to your overall health!

Sooner Is Better

The earlier hearing loss is recognized and treated the easier it is for you to adapt to treatment. This is because as hearing loss progresses, it actually changes the wiring of our brain and impacts our cognition.

The way we detect sound largely happens in the inner ear, where delicate hair cells are attuned to detect different frequencies of sound and, when triggered, send signals to the auditory cortex of the brain for interpretation. Damage to hair cells often results in a permanent loss of hearing – the hair cells, once injured, have no means of repairing or replacing themselves.

When we lose our full faculty of recognizing sound, our brain only receives partial information about what a sound means. As our auditory cortex struggles to piece together speech and meaning from fragments, it draws cognitive resources from other parts of the brain. Overtime, unaddressed hearing struggles fundamentally rewrite the methods our mind uses to understand sound. As the auditory pathways change to compensate for hearing loss, neural pathways once used for healthy hearing erode and become repurposed for other brain functioning.

This means that the longer hearing loss remains unaddressed, the farther removed it becomes from our “natural” way of hearing as the brain becomes more dependant on methods that work around missing auditory information. The less changes we allow to occur in our hearing, the easier it is to assimilate hearing loss treatment into our lives.  For people who choose to use hearing aids, most find that the sooner they begin treating their hearing loss, the more natural it is to adjust to hearing with an assistive technology.

Whole Health

Your hearing isn’t an isolated aspect of your health- instead it is inextricably linked to your overall wellness and quality of life. Untreated hearing loss can impact you socially, mentally and physically.

The effects of untreated hearing loss can create barriers in how you communicate with the people closest to you.  Hearing loss when left untreated greatly increases your likelihood of social isolation, depression and anxiety. Untreated hearing loss can make it difficult to navigate new spaces and follow conversations, making communication and engagement more intimidating and often elevating anxiety. Similarly, difficulty in communicating and being understood can put limits upon social activity and lead to social isolation. With the social and public pressures untreated hearing loss creates, it can also contribute to depression.

The cognitive impact of hearing loss can lead to physical ramifications. When extra mental resources are devoted to piecing together sound fragments, other important brain functions are shortchanged, such as our balance and coordination. Because of this, untreated hearing loss is correlated to a greater incidence of falling accidents in older adults. The cognitive strain caused by hearing loss also increases the risk of a person developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Hearing loss changes the way our mental energy is distributed, and detaching us from healthy hearing and normal brain functioning.

Be Proactive

Have you received a recent diagnosis of hearing loss, or suspect you may have a hearing issue that needs to be addressed? If so, it is time to take action! Acknowledging your hearing loss is the first step towards finding solutions and reclaiming your hearing health.

When you are looking for hearing solutions, turn to the experts at Hear Care in Rhode Island. At Hear Care we know that how you treat hearing loss is a big decision, so we work with your needs and lifestyle to help you connect with treatment that works for you.