Why Our Sense of Hearing is an Essential Part of Good Health.
By: Lisa Monardi, AuD
The most precious gifts in our lives are our senses: our vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell – the building blocks of how we perceive and understand our world. Our senses are so common to us every day that it becomes easy to take them for granted. This is especially true for our sense of hearing. We wake up every day just assuming we will be able to hear our magnificent world the same way we always have. Simple pleasures such as children’s laughter, waves crashing on the shore, the words “I love you” or even just a funny comment made by a friend can all become important sources of happiness that brighten our day.
We rarely think about our sense of hearing until we begin losing it. Yet, hearing is one of the most common senses to decline for all of us. It is easy to take hearing for granted, which is why it is that much more important to step back and appreciate it.
Close your eyes and listen:
- What do you hear?
- What don’t you hear anymore?
- Do you miss hearing something?
- How does your hearing affect you socially or emotionally?
Some people are born without hearing, but most people lose hearing gradually due to exposure to loud noise, diseases, and as human age, we naturally start to lose our ability to perceive higher frequency sounds associated with speech clarity. Sounds such as “f,” “th,” “s” and women and children’s voices. It’s easy to joke about the last one — and chalk it up to selective hearing! — but it’s less amusing when our relationships are affected negatively, or we feel isolated or left out. People receive great pleasure from sound. A bird singing outside your window, listening to music, and conversations with other people bring us joy.
The actual perception of sound occurs in our brain, not our ears. The ears collect and convert sound to nerve impulses which are transmitted to the brain. With so much of our brain’s ability to learn and develop tied to the stimulus received from our ears, hearing loss or a lack of sound stimulus referred to as auditory deprivation may have a negative impact on brain function and memory over time.
The good news is that properly fit hearing aids can improve hearing loss and ease of listening. Research from the University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences (HESP) shows that the use of hearing aids over a period of six months not only restores the capacity to hear but can improve the brain’s processing speed and working memory too. Findings from the study were published recently in Clinical Neurophysiology.
We should be grateful for the hearing we do have – preserve it and take steps to make the most of the hearing we do have. Your brain depends on it and improved hearing can have a remarkable impact on your health and happiness.
Dr. Lisa Monardi, Audiologist, has been helping people with hearing loss for over 20 years. Her life’s work and passion has been about maximizing one’s hearing potential. She is the owner of Marin Hearing Center and San Francisco Hearing Center, audiology clinics located in Corte Madera and San Francisco, California.
Have questions or need your hearing aids checked or cleaned? Call 415-346-6886