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The Seldom Talked About Risk Factor When Determining If You Need a Hearing Aid.

Legislation was passed allowing hearing aids to be sold without seeing an audiologist or hearing care professional. more accessible with the intention of making hearing aids / amplification help for hearing more accessible. The intention was to make hearing aids accessible., While the intent was good,

There is a very important risk factor to delaying getting hearing aids from an audiologist. It has the ability to cause more harm than good.  This seldom talked about risk factor is auditory deprivation. Auditory deprivation may arise after hearing loss occurs because of a lack of auditory information.  This deprivation causes changes in the brain, which could be permanent. The changes in the brain that occur from auditory deprivation were first reported in 1984.  Auditory deprivation is not talked about.  It is common for us to see individuals who seek help from hearing aids when they have a moderate hearing loss. This means that the hearing loss has already gone untreated for many years.

When a hearing aid is fit to an individual, the amount of sound that is provided is specific to the configuration of the hearing loss, both for the amount of sound and the specific frequencies that are amplified. The amount of sound that the device supplies is also dependent upon many variables in the algorithm of the hearing aid and the size, shape and specific characteristics of an individual’s ear canal.  Most device manufacturers of hearing devices design the sound to be acceptable to the average person. Providing individualized very specific amount of sound is therefore not the primary goal.  This customized sound delivered via your ear canal to your brain that allows you to hear the spectrum of speech sounds is called audibility. The only way to ensure that your devices are providing the very specific amount of audibility needed is to use real ear probe microphone measurements when fitting a hearing device. This can only be done in person by a doctor of audiology.

When these measurements are not done that ensure proper fitting of a device, auditory deprivation may occur.  Auditory deprivation also may occur when devices are not worn consistently.  Auditory deprivation results in a loss of clarity of speech. The brain is unable to use the information provided by the device because it isn’t reaching the threshold of activation. Therefore, the protective benefits of a hearing device to stave off cognitive decline is not realized!  It is not enough just to wear a hearing aid. It must be properly fit.

Why seeing an audiologist for your hearing health is one of the best investments you can make.

The benefit of a properly fit hearing aid was validated by a study by Glick and Sharma, which concluded that well- fit hearing devices (defined by the use of real ear probe microphone measurements fit in person by an audiologist) may promote cortical organization that provides cognitive benefit.1

A properly fit hearing device, that is comfortable, has excellent sound quality and allows access to an audiologist for the cleaning, maintenance, hearing evaluations, programming of the device will change your brain and will improve the quality of your life. The long-term costs of untreated hearing loss affect the individual, the entire family and may lead to much more serious consequences than the expense of a well fit hearing device. This is not a place to short change yourself or those you love and communicate with. Take the first step in investing in your health and your cognition by seeing one of our audiologists at San Francisco Hearing Center

See one of our Doctors of Audiology today.

1 Front Neurosci. 2020; 14: 93. Cortical Neuroplasticity and Cognitive Function in Early-Stage, Mild-Moderate Hearing Loss: Evidence of Neurocognitive Benefit From Hearing Aid Use. Hannah Anneli Glick and Anu Sharma.