I often get asked, “do I need to wear my hearing aids all time?” “What if I am by myself? I don’t need to hear anything then, so why do I need to wear my hearing aids when I am alone?”
It is understandable that many would think there is no need to waste battery or wear and tear on their devices when they are not around anyone. However, it is important to remember that hearing is not a passive experience.
When we are communicating, there are many functions going on simultaneously. Our ears are collecting sound, transducing it, the auditory nerve sends the sound to the brain, and the brain applies meaning to that sound. To do this, the brain is using its knowledge to synthesize what we are hearing, therefore providing meaning to what is heard, in addition to forming a response. All these functions happen while we are also being bombarded with other sounds, such as wind, other people talking, appliances running, or the dog barking. We are also taking in visual information all the time. It is amazing that the brain can do all of this, all at one time, without us even realizing it!
Now consider being blindfolded for a day, taking off the blindfold, and going straight into a restaurant. Imagine the shock to our system, having to take in all the visual stimuli! Would it be challenging to focus your attention on what you wanted to look at or listen to, without being distracted by other information, even if that information is useless to you?
This is the way it works with hearing. Even though we may be home alone, with no one to talk to, there is still sound all around you. And, if you are not hearing that sound with your hearing aids, when you DO put your hearing aids on, you are essentially taking off the blindfold.
I often compare hearing well to training for a marathon. No one I know can just pick up and go run a marathon without adequate training. For some, that might mean running or even walking one mile, before eventually, with practice, running 10 or 15 miles at one time. The same is true for hearing. We must put in the work in the quiet areas of our life if we want to hear well in the more challenging environments, such as a noisy restaurant or family gathering. Our brain can’t just “turn on” and take in all that information when we want it to. It is very much alike to a muscle, needing training and practice.
If you are not hearing as well as you would like in challenging situations, first ensure that your hearing aids are appropriately fit, then make sure you are wearing them at least eight hours a day. In time, and with consistent use, you will find that you are hearing better. If after consistent use, you find you are still struggling, contact our office to learn about ways you can train your brain to hear better. Auditory training is the new hot topic in hearing healthcare, and in 2022 we look forward to offering some fun and effective tools you can use at home to improve your brain’s ability to process speech, even in the presence of noise. At Adaptive Audiology Solutions, we are constantly striving to find ways to improve our patient’s care and experience. Call us at 712-775-2625 to learn more about the exceptional care we provide our patients!