The decision to get a hearing aid can be a difficult one to make; you may even be wondering why you should get a hearing aid. This article provides reasons why a hearing aid can help you if you have a hearing loss and will help you not make the decision to live without it.
5 reasons why you should get a hearing aid
If a hearing test reveals that you may benefit from a hearing aid, you may question if it’s really necessary. After all, two people with the same hearing loss may cope very differently and have different hearing needs. ‘Test-driving’ a hearing aid may help answer your question. Rest assured that if hearing aids are recommended it’s for a good reason. Here are 5 reasons why you should get a hearing aid.
1. Hearing aids help you understand speech better
Hearing aids help you hear better and therefore understand speech better. Perhaps you struggle to follow a conversation in most situations and your hearing loss is affecting your quality of life, so you don’t need to be persuaded to get a hearing aid. Or perhaps you feel that you only struggle to follow a conversation in difficult listening situations. This is typical of early, age-related hearing loss. As we age, we begin to lose our ability to hear high pitches first. High pitched speech sounds include ‘th’, ‘s’, ‘f’, ‘k’, ‘t’, and ‘sh’. If you can’t hear these sounds, speech may sound mumbled or unclear, especially in difficult listening situations, like when you cannot see a person’s lips or when you are surrounded by background noise. Hearing aids will allow you to hear the high pitched sounds that you’re missing by making them louder. The overall sound will not necessarily be louder, but it will be crisper and clearer. In situations that you can normally hear, you may question the benefit of hearing aids.
2. Hearing aids help you hear your surroundings better
We take for granted so much of what we hear on a normal day. Simple, everyday sounds such as birds chirping outside your window, or rain falling on the window pane can become a distant memory. Hearing aids will help you hear your surroundings better, from the complex intricacies of music to the gentle ticking of a car indicator. Less pleasant sounds, such as distant traffic and air conditioners will also be louder. Surrounding sounds may seem unusually loud when you first get a hearing aid but only because you haven’t heard them at normal volume for some time. The brain quickly adapts to the loudness of your surroundings if you use the hearing aids consistently.
3. Hearing aids help with tinnitus
Noise in the ears, such as ringing or buzzing, is known as tinnitus. Many people with hearing loss also suffer from tinnitus. Hearing aids don’t just improve your hearing, they help with tinnitus too. Just as a candle shines brighter in the dark, tinnitus sounds louder when the surroundings are quieter because of hearing loss. Hearing aids make your surroundings louder which reduces or masks out the sound of your tinnitus.
4. Hearing aids help with your balance
Researchers at the University of Washington found that older people did better on balance tests with hearing aids than without hearing aids. By improving your balance, hearing aids may reduce the risk of falling.
5. Hearing aids give you a new appreciation of sound
When hearing loss happens slowly over many years, you may forget what normal hearing actually sounds like. You may think your reduced hearing is normal, but a hearing test will show otherwise. While hearing aids may not get your hearing back to normal, you may be surprised to find how much sound you were missing out on, which is all the more reason to get one.
The risks of not treating your hearing loss
You may have a better idea of how hearing aids can benefit you but are still not convinced that you should take the leap. Here are 5 reasons why you should not continue to live with untreated hearing loss:
- If you don’t use it, you lose it
Sound is picked up by the organ of hearing (cochlea) and travels along the nerve of hearing (auditory nerve) to where it is processed in the brain (auditory cortex). If hearing loss is left untreated and the nerves and cortex are not stimulated with sound, they begin to waste away. This is known as ‘auditory deprivation’. The damage caused by depriving the ear of sound cannot be undone. If hearing loss is left untreated for many years, even the most sophisticated hearing aids may not be able to make speech clearer.
- Untreated hearing loss causes fatigue
When you have untreated hearing loss, it takes a lot of effort to follow a conversation. You cannot just rely on your hearing; you have to concentrate and use visual cues, lip-reading, and context to fill in parts of words or sentences that you miss. The focus that is needed to understand speech when you have a hearing loss, no matter how mild, can take its toll. By the end of the day, you may lack energy or feel drained. This is known as ‘listening fatigue’. People who use hearing aids don’t have to put in as much effort to follow the conversation and are less fatigued than people who don’t use hearing aids.
- Untreated hearing loss can affect your emotional health
People with untreated hearing loss may experience anxiety, depression, embarrassment, and poor self-image.
- Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation
When you have untreated hearing loss, it can be a constant struggle to follow the conversation. You may find it easier not to engage in conversation at all. You may begin to withdraw from social interactions and settings. People who don’t use hearing aids experience loneliness and social isolation as a result. Hearing aids can improve your social life and enhance relationships with your loved ones.
- Untreated hearing loss can affect cognitive function
Untreated hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline. One theory is that when you have hearing loss, your brain works overtime to process sound and has less capacity for other important functions, such as memory. Less mental stimulation from social interactions may also be responsible for cognitive decline. Furthermore, people with untreated hearing loss may be at a greater risk of developing dementia. Researchers at John Hopkins University found that mild hearing loss doubled the risk of developing dementia, while people with severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop the condition compared to those with normal hearing.
The decision to get hearing aids is a personal one, as hearing is crucial in all aspects of our lives. Take time to reflect on whether your hearing loss has affected more than just your ability to communicate. The benefits far outweigh the risks so take the plunge and get a hearing aid.