Most hearing problems can be helped
As important as hearing is to our daily lives, it is also one of our major health concerns. Over 30 million people in the U.S have hearing problems .These are people of all ages and from all walks of life. Most hearing problems develop gradually, often causing the hearing impaired person to slowly withdraw from normal social and business situations. Fortunately, the vast majority of people with hearing difficulties can benefit from either medical treatment or hearing aids or both. Even people who have been told they have “nerve deafness” may be helped by the advanced technology of today’s hearing aids.
Many people do not realize the seriousness of Auditory Deprivation. What is Auditory Deprivation?
Auditory Deprivation is when the hearing nerves and the areas of the brain responsible for hearing are deprived of sound, they atrophy – weaken – making recovery from hearing loss through mechanical means that much more difficult. The fancy term is auditory deprivation.
The most common cause is simple. The person with the hearing loss chooses not to treat their hearing loss with amplification – hearing aids. When no action is taken and the nerves of the hearing mechanism aren’t use, they become deprived of stimulation and slowly become weakened. You don’t actually “hear” a sound until the brain’s hearing centers receive electrical signals from the ear, process those signals for location, proximity and cause and generate some reaction. Not only do the hearing nerves weaken over time, the hearing centers of the brain, under-utilized, also tend to weaken – atrophy – as a result of auditory deprivation. The hearing centers no longer receive and process as many electrical hearing messages from the ear – even if the ear is delivering ample stimuli. Another cause of auditory deprivation is single-ear hearing aid use. This asymmetrical setup causes one ear to take on more of the listening activity than the other, weakening the unaided ear over time.
Untreated hearing loss not only leads to physical, social, emotional and psychological problems but recent studies have shown a link to reduced cognitive function as well. According to the National Institute on Aging, individuals with untreated hearing loss are at a higher risk of developing cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A recent Johns Hopkins study indicated a link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive problems including dementia. The study examined individuals with varying degrees of hearing loss and no history of dementia. At the end of 20 years, almost 10% of participants were identified as having dementia. When compared to those with normal hearing, participants with mild loss were three times as likely to develop dementia; those with severe loss were five times as likely to develop the disorder. Overall, the study showed that for every 10 decibels of hearing loss the risk of developing dementia increased by 20%. Auditory deprivation has been suggested as a possible contributor to the cognitive disorder.
There are several studies that indicate that the ear can recover from the effects of auditory deprivation. The key to hearing better longer is to keep the ear bits active and NOT let them atrophy. Through the use of hearing aids – early, when you first notice hearing loss – you’ll enjoy a better quality of hearing longer. The sooner you recognize hearing loss, the sooner you get treatment for hearing loss, the more success you will have with hearing aids and the better hearing you will have.
Types of Hearing LossConductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is often temporary and can often be corrected. Conductive loss stems from problems of the outer or middle ear and can be caused by:
- Build-up of wax or fluid
- Punctured eardrum
Sensorineural Hearing Loss/ Nerve Deafness
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss. In fact, it accounts for 90% of all adult hearing problems and is caused by aging and noise. With sensorineural loss:
- There are problems with the cochlea and the auditory nerve.
- Sounds not only diminish in volume, but become distorted.
- High frequency sounds and some spoken words are first to go.
- Low frequency sounds, such as vowels, are heard better.
This type of hearing loss can be treated with amplification (hearing instruments) and, occasionally, surgery. For more information about surgical procedures, consult a physician.
Mixed Hearing Loss-Both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss occurs at the same time.
Hearing Aid Basics
ITE hearing aids fit directly into the external part of the ear and are custom made to fit the contours of your ear. Appealing shell styles combine improved cosmetics with optimal power and sound quality.
BTE hearing aids are housed in a small curved case which fits behind the ear. A thin transparent tube is inserted directly into the ear canal. This reduces the “plugged up” sensation associated with some hearing aids. This type of hearing aid is also referred to as “open fit” since your ear canal is left open.
RIE hearing aids are housed in a small case that fits in the ear. It naturally rests on the curve of the ear and is virtually invisible due to its discreet tube and receiver.
- Multiple channels for better prescription fit
- Automatic volume control to ensure sounds are never too loud and are reduced for comfort
- Speech Pattern Detection and noise reduction to help you hear better in background noise
- Anti-Feedback Control to reduce whistling
- Wind Noise Suppression to help you better enjoy outdoor activities
- Open fit technology to relieve feeling “plugged up”
Frequently Asked QuestionsQ: How do I know if I have a hearing loss? A: If you experience a number of warning signs or if people often tell you that you're not hearing well, you may have a hearing loss.
Q: If I suspect a hearing loss, what should I do? A: The best thing to do is make an appointment for a hearing test with one of Beltone's licensed hearing care professionals. The hearing test will tell you what you're hearing and what you are missing.
Q: What should I expect when getting my hearing tested? A: Your Beltone hearing care professionals will first ask you about your lifestyle and hearing needs. You will then be given a comprehensive hearing test, a video ear exam and a word discrimination test. These will explain whether or not you have a hearing loss and will help direct what next steps need to be taken.
Q: How will I know what hearing aids are right for me? A: Your Beltone hearing care professional will make the best recommendation for you based on your lifestyle, hearing loss and budget.
Q: How much do hearing aids cost? A: The price of hearing instruments varies depending on style and technology selected. We offer a wide variety of products to fit every lifestyle, hearing loss and budget. We work with most insurance companies and have discount programs with many retiree associations, labor unions, and employer organizations. We also offer interest free payment plans.
Q: Can I try a hearing aid before I buy it? A: Yes. Beltone offers you the opportunity to "test drive" a hearing aid in the office before you buy it to see what it sounds like in a variety of listening situations.
Q: How frequently should my hearing be tested? A: Just like having your vision checked, your hearing should be checked annually to ensure good hearing health.
Q: Do I really need two hearing aids? A: Most types of hearing loss affect both ears equally, and while you might think you have one good ear, you most likely have two bad ears. 90% of patients have a need for hearing aids in both ears. The advantages of wearing two aids include the following:
- Localized sound - ability to detect the direction and distance of sounds, which can only be achieved with two ears.
- Balanced hearing - more accurately respond to sounds, like conversation on your left or right sounds.
- Better speech comprehension.
Still not sure? Click here to take this simple at home hearing screening.
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Special Introductory Offer
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*$500 off a single instrument. Beltone Amaze 17 instruments only.
Discount off MSRP. Cannot be combined with other offers. Previous purchases excluded. Participation may vary. See office for details. Benefits of hearing aids vary by type and degree of hearing loss, noise environment, accuracy of hearing evaluation and proper fit.