Grandmother wearing the best hearing aid (Lexie Lumen hearing aids) reads about how to improve her hearing loss

Can Hearing Loss Improve Without a Hearing Aid?

Hearing loss can be a frightening experience at first. You may feel isolated and you may instinctively want to hide the fact that your hearing is not as good as it once was. Typically, this means that you avoid wearing a hearing aid and you may want to find ways to improve your hearing loss without having to wear one. So, let’s consider, is it possible to do so? 

Hearing loss comes with many different variables. The type and severity will determine how to improve hearing. You should note that some hearing losses are irreversible, but it is possible to ensure that hearing loss does not worsen over time.

Here are some variables that will determine the best way to manage your hearing loss:

Middle ear problems

Hearing loss caused by problems in the middle ear could be improved or reversed. Sometimes, clogged wax in the ear canal or an ear infection may be the cause of the problem. Getting these problems treated could result in normal or improved hearing. However, it is important to find out the cause of the hearing loss by consulting your healthcare provider for an assessment. They will be able to give you information regarding the cause and degree of hearing loss and may even be able to treat the hearing loss without a hearing aid (i.e. through wax management or suitable medications).

Early detection

While many types of hearing losses are irreversible, you may be able to prevent your hearing from getting worse if you detect it early. Therefore, it is important to have your hearing tested regularly. If hearing loss is confirmed, annual assessments would be necessary to monitor your hearing. 

Exercise, exercise, exercise

Exercise is generally good for overall health. So it should come as no surprise that it would be beneficial for improving hearing. How does exercise help? Well, exercise increases the flow of blood to the ears and this results in more hair cells being stimulated. Hair cells are responsible for transmitting signals to the brain, so, the more they are stimulated the better sound travels.

Strenuous exercise is not necessary. A simple walk, gardening, or doing the housework will all get your blood pumping. It is important to remember that you should not exercise with earphones; however if music is important to you, ensure that you listen to it at a low level.

Another form of exercise that is not too strenuous and is worth trying is yoga. It allows your body to move and blood to circulate, which is important for healthy hearing.

Keep your brain healthy and stimulated

Apart from physical exercise, exercising your brain and ears is also very important. Exercises that strengthen your hearing comprehension are important to help you hear and understand better. Some activities you can try:

  • Listen to and comprehend environmental sounds. Focus your hearing on particular sounds as you try and identify what those sounds are. Do this a couple of times a day. 
  • Ask someone to read to you, then repeat each sentence they have read word for word. Do this until you are able to hear and understand them well. Following this, you can repeat what you hear on the TV or radio for extra practice. 

By practicing these activities you allow your brain’s ability to hear, discriminate, and understand to develop which may in turn make conversations easier.

Brain exercises such as crossword puzzles and number problems are also beneficial. They keep your brain active and prevent important cells from dying or shrinking.

Keep noise levels low

Although this is more of a preventative strategy, it is important to keep noise to a minimum so that your hearing loss doesn’t worsen over time. Decrease noise levels in your environment. Loud noise levels are one of the biggest and most preventable causes of hearing loss. Your hearing health will benefit if you reduce recreational and occupational noises. To do this: 

  • Listen to music at low levels, especially when wearing headphones.
  • Wear hearing protective devices when you work in loud environments.
  • Reduce time spent in noisy environments such as nightclubs and concerts.
  • Avoid standing near loudspeakers at events.

Smoking is bad

Yes, you may not have known this but smoking affects your hearing. The nicotine in cigarettes:

  • Is toxic to the hair cells in the ears.
  • Decreases the flow of blood to the ears.
  • Affects the neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, thus preventing sound from processing

Emotional, physical and mental well-being

Tiredness and stress, whether physical, mental, or emotional affect the ability of the brain to process incoming sound signals accurately which can make understanding speech harder especially when in challenging listening conditions. Although improving overall well-being does not improve hearing loss per se, but does allow the brain to analyze and decipher sound signals more accurately making it easier to follow speech; lessening the (cognitive) strain of trying to understand speech.

Why hearing aids are most likely your best option

You may not want to, but you have to accept the fact that a hearing aid is the best way to improve your hearing. Not only do they allow you to hear better but they also improve your understanding and make conversations easier. All the other methods mentioned may improve your hearing, but not by a big margin. Amplification via hearing aids helps you to hear a lot better thus improving quality of life. 

The introduction of hearing aids can also reduce listening fatigue. Hearing loss is a frustrating problem that can cause physical and/or emotional stress. Straining to listen to others can be exhausting, called listening fatigue; causing you to feel physically worn out by the end of the day. When our hearing is reduced, our brain has to work harder to interpret sound.

We might not be consciously aware of the effort it takes to process sounds, but it results in us feeling exhausted.  The worse your hearing loss is, the harder you have to work to hear and understand, and the quicker you’ll start feeling the effects of listening fatigue. This is why so many people who are hard of hearing begin to isolate themselves. 

You may also find that without a hearing aid, your hearing will worsen sooner or later. Hearing aids are a great way to stabilize and monitor your hearing loss.

Remember, in this modern age hearing aids are smaller and more comfortable than they once were. This makes hearing aids easier to use and less conspicuous. Get an evaluation or take an online hearing test, your hearing health professional or Lexie hearing expert will advise you on whether hearing aids are the best for you. Hearing aids are the recommended treatment for most types of hearing losses. 

You may also find that without a hearing aid, your hearing will worsen sooner or later. Hearing aids are a great way to stabilize and monitor your hearing loss. 

Remember, accepting your hearing loss and wearing a hearing aid is one step closer to improve hearing loss and a much better quality of life. 

Article updated on July 19, 2022.

Image of post writer Fathima Reshid.

Written by Fathima Reshid

B. Audiology



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