An Old Problem?
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June 1, 2017
Written by John Thistle BC-HIS

Let’s be honest, hearing aids don’t have a very positive reputation. Everyone is familiar with the stories. “They hurt my ears and all I hear is the noise”. If this is what people experience then why do we take that apprehensive plunge into frigid water and purchase them? The answer is quite simple; we hope that our experience will be different from the experiences of others and it can be with some understanding. 

The number one reason for failure is ignorance. Not ignorance in the sense of naïve disillusionment but rather a misinformed understanding of how to deal with the situation. Speaking from personal experience as a hearing aid wearer, I’ve found that a number of clinics do not take the time to properly explain reasonable expectations. Even worse they tend to rush through the “sales pitch” instead of customizing the selection process to narrow down the devices that are appropriate for the specific user. Not everyone leads the same lifestyle and therefore the devices that are selected for one person are not appropriate for all. Some people have arthritis and therefore are dealing with limitations to their dexterity which can affect insertion, battery handling and cleaning. 

It is imperative that people understand they are only capable of providing what the name implies. They are able to AID your hearing. They are neither able to fix nor restore a person’s hearing back to a “normal” state, instead provide the assistance required to perform better in any given situation. That being said, today’s technology allows them to do an excellent job at aiding compared with yesterday’s devices.

It is true that hearing aids can be quite expensive and people often ask why they should spend the money on assistive devices which cannot restore normal hearing when they are able to get by without using them. The answer can be nicely summed up by a study released by John Hopkins University which linked untreated hearing loss with early onset Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The study showed that there is a sequence of events which slows down your ability to process sound and therefore have a detrimental effect on your comprehension of speech. Untreated hearing loss actually shrinks the auditory portion of the brain which also contains a portion of memory function. That means that early intervention of hearing loss is as much a preventative measure as it is an assistive measure.

“The study also gives some urgency to treating hearing loss rather than ignoring it. ‘If you want to address hearing loss well,’ (Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D.) says, ‘you want to do it sooner rather than later. If hearing loss is potentially contributing to these differences we're seeing on MRI, you want to treat it before these brain structural changes take place.’ “

Most importantly you must wear them! It takes 6-9 months of 12 hours per day usage to maximize the full benefit. Purchasing but not wearing just doesn’t make much sense does it?

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