As hearing loss continues to affect millions of people worldwide, many seek a long-term solution to their hearing loss. For some, this involves buying a set of hearing aids, which have many benefits for overcoming hearing loss.
Most people with hearing loss quickly discover the amazing benefits of hearing aids when they regularly wear them. However, if you have mild or moderate hearing loss, you may feel like you only get the benefits of hearing aids in certain situations.
For example, some people may only wear hearing aids while they are at work. Others may take them out in situations with a lot of background noise. However, wearing your hearing aids all the time may have a significant impact on your long-term health.
Healthy Hearing is Critical
The ability to properly hear, remember, and follow your doctor’s advice is key to your long-term health. For example, by some estimates, the United States spends $100 billion each year on preventable hospitalizations due to a failure to properly take medications.
Hearing loss not only makes it hard for you to hear the medical advice of your doctor, but it makes it harder to remember it as well. If you’re struggling to listen to what’s being said, then your brain is working more than it should, which makes it harder for you to process and remember the information you’re trying to hear.
Also, people with hearing loss who wore hearing aids have shown signs of improved mental processing and memory. If you can hear better, you use less brainpower to listen, which frees up your cognitive processes and makes it easier for you to process and remember information.
If you wear your hearing aids all the time, you lower the stress on your brain to understand what’s being said around you. This helps you remember everything better, including vital medical advice.
Hearing Well Saves Lives
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 800,000 people over age 65 are hospitalized due to falls each year, with the average hospital cost of a fall injury being more than $30,000. The most common injuries from falls are a broken hip or head trauma. Unfortunately, people with hearing loss are at a greater risk of falls than people with normal hearing.
However, wearing hearing aids marks a big difference in those with hearing loss. People with hearing loss who wore hearing aids are shown to perform better on balance tests than when they did not wear their hearing aids. If you have hearing loss, wearing hearing aids could improve your balance and decrease your risk of being injured from a fall.
Although everyone experiences some mental decline as they age, people with hearing loss are at a greater risk than others. Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found people with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia. Those with moderate hearing loss were three times more likely at risk for dementia, and those with severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop dementia as they age.
However, people who wear hearing aids to address their hearing loss can erase that risk almost entirely. Although people with hearing loss have a higher mental decline rate, those who wore hearing aids showed no higher risk than people with normal hearing.
By wearing your hearing aids all the time, not just when it is convenient, you can stay healthier and more mentally alert. Additionally, you can lower your risk of adverse health outcomes in the future.
Hearing is in the Brain
The majority of our hearing is done in the brain and not with our ears. This is why it is so important to expose the brain to sound through hearing aids consistently.
The ears pick up sound and deliver it to the brain. When hearing loss is present, the brain is deprived of sound at normal levels (auditory deprivation). This becomes “normal hearing” to the person with hearing loss. However, it is not normal hearing.
The brain needs to be consistently exposed to sounds at normal levels to put them into different categories as it once did. By wearing hearing aids, we are retraining the brain to hear again at a normal level.
Some people with hearing loss feel their hearing is fine while they are at home or do not need to hear while reading the paper or watching television. Actually, it is imperative to hear even subtle sounds. As you hear more amplified sounds, you build a tolerance to the louder volume levels of sound, which helps the amplified sounds seem more natural. More exposure leads to optimal performance with hearing aids. This is all done by the brain automatically without people being aware that it is happening.
Hearing loss is not only present when you go out into the noisy world. If a hearing aid wearer only wears the hearing aids occasionally, the brain has no idea what to do with all of this newly introduced noise and stimuli. This can be overwhelming and cause people to reject their hearing aids by saying, “all I hear is noise.”
If the sound is introduced regularly by wearing the hearing aids consistently, it will be more acceptable when background noise is introduced. Consistent hearing aid use will help to eliminate this over-stimulation effect, and sounds become normal again. We are immersing the brain with the new sound, desensitizing it to the extraneous sounds, and allowing it to focus on listening to more important things like speech.
This whole process does not happen overnight. The more consistently hearing aids are worn, the faster all sounds, background, and foreground will become more natural. The amount of time this process can take will vary for everyone. For this reason, wearing the hearing aids regularly throughout the day is critical to adjust your ears.
It is recommended to wear hearing aids all of the time, except when you are sleeping, showering, having your hair done, swimming, or in a dangerously loud environment.