Hearing aids have come ahead in leaps and bounds and are now far more than just a hearing aid. If I go back 26 years to when I first started providing hearing care there was basically one decision my clients had to make. In the ear or behind the ear? Both were large and bulky, some were still adjusted by the audiologist using a screwdriver! `Digital’ hearing aids simply meant we could attach them to a computer to program but the sound processing was still acoustic. We could turn them up, down, slightly adjust the frequency of the sound being amplified BUT background noise was always a problem, everyone complained of having to take their hearing aid out to use the phone, only profoundly deaf people who could not hear at all without their hearing aids actually liked them. It was a hard slog being an audiologist, even harder being hearing impaired.
Step forward 26 years and wow, have things changed! Hearing aids are small, discreet and do so much more than just increase the volume of sound. They analyse the sound coming in, enhance speech, reduce background noise. They stream phone calls directly from your mobile phone, stream music (yes sounds just like an airpod), they come in different colours (they no longer look like nanna’s knickers), they can even sense if you have a fall, contacting your emergency contact. There are devices that stream your TV directly to your hearing aids. Hearing aids help people from only a very mild hearing loss to a profound hearing loss. They can even be programmed to help mask out annoying tinnitus.
We know that the earlier you start wearing hearing aids the more benefit you obtain from them in the long run. Waiting until your hearing is really bad is a really bad idea. The reason for this is that basically your brain forgets how to use sound. It is like not doing any exercise for 20 years and then deciding to run a marathon. Sure, you can train and eventually you may make that marathon but if you had have been doing some exercise for the 20 years, it would not take as much effort to get there.
It is the same with your hearing, if you continue to stimulate your auditory nerves (the nerves that take the message about the sound to your brain) by wearing a hearing aid, 20 years down the track your hearing will still have deteriorated by the same amount BUT your brain still understands the message. Wearing hearing aids does not make your hearing worse, it’s almost the opposite as your ability to use the sound is better if you have continued to stimulate your auditory nerves and brain. Use it or lose it!