While hearing aids are comparable to eyeglasses and contact lenses as corrective devices for the loss of sensory ability, the complexity of your hearing often makes the transition to hearing aids a more difficult task. There is, though, plenty of life after hearing aids.
With a little patience and a professional, caring team like those at Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat Center’s five locations in Southeast Michigan, you’ll soon be marveling at the sounds you’ve missed.
The nature of hearing loss
Though there are many reasons why you might suffer from hearing loss, there’s often a component that results from long-term exposure to loud sounds. You may not have noticeable hearing loss from any single incident, but over time, the cumulative effects add up.
Presbycusis, better known as age-related hearing loss, also compounds the slow decline in hearing that’s quite common among older adults.
The gradual nature of these types of hearing loss gives your brain time to adapt. The end result is that slow hearing loss is difficult for a person to recognize, since their brain constantly resets the boundaries of “normal.”
Because there’s no way to compare levels of hearing today against what you perceived even a decade ago, it’s hard to know how much loss you’ve experienced without audiological evaluation — a hearing test.
A new sensation
With the results of your hearing test, the audiologist has the data needed to prescribe hearing aids, devices with tiny microphones and speakers that pick up the sounds around you and then process it and add it to your remaining natural hearing.
Ideally, hearing aids augment the sound information in proportion with the frequencies you’ve lost.
However, your brain is accustomed to your lower level of hearing. At first use, hearing aids can seem loud and harsh, depending on the details of your hearing loss. It can even be draining and fatiguing to listen to this new version of the sounds of the world around you.
Time to adapt
Just as your brain adapted to less hearing, it will also adapt to more. Unlike the process of hearing loss, though, the hearing aid experience is instant. The return of those missing frequencies can be shocking.
Fortunately, audiologists and hearing aid manufacturers know of this, and they have strategies to help you through this adjustment period. Your brain begins to relearn how to hear, essentially, with the additional frequencies the hearing aids provide.
It’s common for people with hearing loss to also experience the phenomenon of tinnitus. Phantom sounds, sometimes related to lost frequencies, can ring or buzz as sounds in your brain, even though there’s no actual noise occurring. The effect can range from distracting to disabling.
Life after hearing aids often frees you from the effects of tinnitus. While these phantom sounds may still occur, the supplemental sound added by hearing aids realigns the priorities of processing in your brain, suppressing their impact.
To gain the full benefits of hearing aids, it’s important that you wear these most of your waking hours. It’s also important to have discussions with your audiologist about your hearing aid experience so your hearing aids work well for you.
Contact Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat Center at the closest of their five locations to schedule a hearing test today. Call the office of your choice directly or use the online link to book your consultation. Life after hearing aids can be fantastic. Find out more about it now.