How Hearing Health Can Affect Your Health
It’s pretty well-known that hearing aids help most people suffering from hearing loss. But, did you know that hearing aids can help to keep your brain sharp, or slow down other health issues? Recent research shows that taking care of hearing health affects overall health.
What Is Hearing Loss?
Sound waves travel into the ear canal to the eardrum where they are converted into sound vibrations, and passed through the middle ear bones into the inner ear, the cochlea.
There are thousands of tiny hair cells inside the cochlea, which convert sound vibrations into electrical signals and send them to the brain through the auditory nerve. This tells the brain you are hearing a sound.
At the apex of every hair cell lies a small patch of stereocilia, which rock back and forth when sound vibrations are present. When sound is too loud, the stereocilia can be bent or broken, causing the hair cell to die, and removing that source of signal to the brain. Once a hair cell dies, it never grows back.
High frequency hair cells are most easily damaged, which is why people with hearing loss often have the most difficulty hearing high pitched noises, like crickets or birds chirping.
Clearer Signals = Clearer Mind
Correcting hearing loss and vision loss can reduce or slow down cognitive decline, according to NPR.org. NPR.com describes a study done by the University of Manchester, which showed a 75% improvement in cognitive decline in people who started using hearing aids. That’s remarkable! And there were similar results in studies done with vision tests. There was an improvement for people who addressed their vision health, but only about 50%.
To be clear, there is still a decline, but addressing hearing or vision loss can slow the decline significantly. In other words, there are fairly simple fixes that can help to preserve brain function by improving hearing health.
There have been some improvements in prescription glasses in recent years, but hearing aids have come a long way in a short time. Digital technology is available at affordable prices, and that should continue to get better and better in the next few years. With the switch from analog to digital, hearing aids can now understand the types of sounds coming in and adjust to them. This means that instead of just boosting volume, a modern, digital hearing aid can clean up the sound as it comes into your ear.
When you put on a pair of prescription glasses, things go from fuzzy to clear immediately. The brain adjusts quickly. However, when you first try hearing aids, it may have been a while since you’ve heard certain sounds. Your brain might need extra time to get used to the change. Once that brief adjustment period is over, hearing aids help the wearer to be more sociable and to communicate with greater ease. While a person with hearing loss might fumble for words, a person with hearing aids has more confidence to respond appropriately.
How You Can Improve Your Hearing Loss
The most important step in improving hearing loss is acknowledging that you have it. Once you are aware of it and take ownership of the issue, you can begin to take steps to improve it. Once you've acknowledged that you have hearing loss, the next important step is to do an assessment. You can go to your family doctor or audiologist, or you could do a self-assessment with support from our Hearing Health Advisers if necessary.
Once you have a better understanding of your hearing loss, you should have a good idea of which type of hearing aid will be best equipped to address it. However, before you make a purchase, our experts recommend that you think about the impact this will have on your hearing, your social life, and your overall health. Take it from Edward, one of our most senior Licensed Hearing Aid Dispensers: "When people really commit to our way of addressing hearing health, they have the best success."
When you've learned about your hearing loss and made the commitment to address it, then it's time to choose the right device for you. We offer a wide range of hearing aids, covering mild to profound hearing loss. We back them up with a 45-day, in-home trial,
We know that 48 million people in the US have some form of hearing loss and 95% of them could be helped by hearing aids. We also know that many people continue to put off getting help for a number of reasons. The most common reason we hear is that hearing aids are very expensive, and most insurance plans don’t help with the cost. Others have tried hearing aids, but have been frustrated with the experience.
Hopefully, once people learn that addressing their hearing loss can positively affect their overall health, they’ll take action. It’s no longer a complicated or expensive process to get the hearing help they deserve. If you're sure you (or a loved one) have hearing loss, we invite you take the next step by assessing your hearing loss online through our 3-minute hearing loss assessment.