There is no point beating around the bush – untreated hearing loss is bad for your brain. Understanding the consequences of inaction will hopefully convince you or provide you with the tools needed to persuade a loved one that enough is enough; it is time to get the help they need for their hearing loss.
More than just your ears are involved in the hearing process. Your brain plays a large role in interpreting electronic impulses as sounds. When you are living with untreated hearing loss, your brain beings to receive fewer auditory signals than it used to. This is known as auditory deprivation.
Audiologist and Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, Jenilee Pulido, explains it best: “Auditory deprivation is when the brain has difficulty understanding and processing information due to the lack of stimulation.”
When the brain begins to receive fewer auditory signals, it will make changes to how it operates. Parts of the brain typically designated to process sounds will be reassigned. According to a 2014 peer-reviewed journal article, these parts of the brain will switch to visual processing.
Use It or Lose It
“The longer you wait to seek treatment, the [more the] brain has trouble understanding and processing information,” says Pulido. This means that when you finally seek treatment, your brain may still struggle. Even though you will be able to hear the words, your brain may not be able to process the words. Some equate this sensation to cognitive decline.
Treatment for Auditory Deprivation
How permanent auditory deprivation turns out to be can differ from person to person. Pulido explains, the “brain is very [flexible] and it can make a lot of changes—once it’s being stimulated, new connections can form so that it can understand more information.”
While it is never too late to seek treatment, hearing aids will require an adjustment period, especially if you have been living with untreated hearing loss for a long time. “The most common type of hearing loss is slow and gradual—so you get used to it, and think it’s normal to hear like that,” Pulido explains. When you wear your hearing aids, sounds you long forgot existed, like the hum of the refrigerator will seem loud. Your voice will also sound different.
To learn more about the dangers of untreated hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist to start your treatment journey, contact Audiology Center Northwest today.
Learn More About Hearing Loss
- What Is High-Frequency Hearing Loss?
- Protect Your Child from Headphone Misuse
- Do You Have Permanent or Temporary Hearing Loss?