Improving Your Hearing

Hearing Aid Benefits

Hearing aids can reduce communication difficulties and improve quality of life [1], yet of the estimated three million Canadian adults with a hearing problem, only one in six people who could benefit from a hearing aid currently have one [2]. This is a particularly troubling statistic when considered alongside evidence that even a mild hearing loss [3] can be detrimental to physical and mental wellbeing [4].

Untreated hearing loss linked to brain atrophy

In much the same way as a muscle needs to be used regularly in order to remain strong, areas of the brain responsible for processing sound need regular stimulation. When hearing loss deprives them of auditory input, they can begin to reorganise or even shrink, leading to a cascade of changes affecting various mental processes [5].

Fortunately, research suggests that hearing aid use can reverse these effects. According to Dr. Jonathan Peelle of Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, “As hearing ability declines with age, interventions such as hearing aids should be considered not only to improve hearing but to preserve the brain.” [6]

Hearing aid use improves social life and mental health

Research carried out by the National Council on the Aging [7] found that individuals with hearing loss who opted not to wear hearing aids were at increased risk for depression, anxiety, social isolation, and emotional problems. Conversely, hearing aid users reported improvements in family relationships, social life, independence, mental health, self-esteem and even sex life.

Hearing aids for tinnitus

Tinnitus frequently accompanies hearing loss, and whilst further research is required, there is evidence to suggest that carefully fitted hearing aids can offer benefits here too. Communication problems due to hearing loss can aggravate the symptoms of stress and anxiety commonly associated with tinnitus, which is often most troublesome in quiet environments.  It is thought that hearing aids may help by reducing communication difficulties and providing enhanced access to quieter sounds.[8]  Hearing aid use may also reverse or reduce abnormal patterns of brain activity thought to be linked to tinnitus. [9]

Cutting edge technology improves speech clarity

Modern hearing aids are discreet and highly effective. Capable of being programmed to suit the specific requirements of each individual ear, they can also offer wireless connectivity to smartphones, home entertainment systems, and hearing loops in and outside the home.  Such devices are a far cry from the bulky, ineffective hearing aids of the past. Ill-suited to use in background noise or by those with milder forms of hearing loss, they offered little in the way of adjustment and were prone to whistling due to feedback.

Today’s hearing aids incorporate cutting edge signal processing technology, capable of delivering improved speech clarity, even in the most difficult of listening situations. They also include numerous automated features, such as feedback cancellation, volume adjustment, and background noise reduction. No longer bulky and beige, they are available in a range of styles and colors to suit all tastes and lifestyles.

Products from manufacturers like Widex and Phonak are easy to use, yet highly customisable, offering multiple programs that can be fine-tuned by your audiologist to provide optimal performance in different listening environments, such as one to one conversations, talking on the phone, watching TV, meetings, parties and other social situations.

To join the thousands of Canadians currently benefiting from comfortable, effective hearing aids, please call us on 905 832 9095 or 416 619 0894, or visit https://www.houseofhearing.ca/booking/ to book your appointment.

 

References

[1] Humes, L. E., & Krull, V. (2012). Hearing aids for adults. Evidence-based practice in audiology: Evaluating interventions for children and adults with hearing impairment, 61-92.

[2] Chha.ca. (2014). CHHA-AMEC: Hearing Awareness Project. [online] Retrieved from: http://chha.ca/chha/projects-mathematics.php [Accessed: 21 Mar 2014].

[3] Monzani, D., Galeazzi, G. M., Genovese, E., Marrara, A., & Martini, A. (2008). Psychological profile and social behaviour of working adults with mild or moderate hearing loss. Acta otorhinolaryngologica Italica : organo ufficiale della Società italiana di otorinolaringologia e chirurgia cervico-facciale28(2), 61–66.
URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2644978/

[4] Asha.org. (2014). Untreated Hearing Loss in Adults—A Growing National Epidemic. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.asha.org/Aud/Articles/Untreated-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/ [Accessed: 22 Mar 2014].

[5] Tremblay, K. L., & Kraus, N. (2002). Beyond the ear: central auditory plasticity.Otorhinolaryngologia. 52(3):93-100.

[6] Uphs.upenn.edu. (2011). Penn Medicine News: Mild Hearing Loss Linked to Brain Atrophy in Older Adults, Penn Study Shows. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2011/08/mild-hearing/ [Accessed: 21 Mar 2014].

[7] National Council on the Aging (2000). The consequences of untreated hearing loss in older persons. ORL-head and neck nursing18(1), 12–16.
URL http://view.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11147549

[8] Del Bo, L., & Ambrosetti, U. (2007). Hearing aids for the treatment of tinnitus. Progress in brain research166, 341–345.
URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0079-6123(07)66032-4

[9] Hoare, D. J., Edmondson-Jones, M., Sereda, M., Akeroyd, M. A., & Hall, D. (2014). Amplification with hearing aids for patients with tinnitus and co-existing hearing loss. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews1.
URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd010151.pub2