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Hearing Aids

Hearing Health Blog

The Risks Of Auditory Deprivation

calendar-icon March 23, 2021
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When is the right time to get hearing aids? This common question is not easy to answer. Certainly, you do not want to get hearing aids when your loss is so mild that you (and those closest to you) are unaware that you even have a hearing loss! On the other hand, if you are struggling to hear in certain situations, that should not be ignored. That is why getting a hearing test is always the best start. When tested at Adaptive Audiology Solutions, we follow best practices and evidence-based research. This means that our hearing evaluations include not only a hearing test, but also an assessment of communication needs and an analysis of the patient’s perception of their own hearing ability. Research shows that these assessments provide the best treatment results.

auditory deprivation

Once I have completed these assessments, I ask myself two questions:

  1. Will the patient experience any measurable benefit from hearing aids?
  2. Is there increased risk to the patient if they do not go forward with treatment?

It is important for me to consider what will happen to the patient if they do nothing.  Are they putting themselves at increased risk for cognitive decline or a decline in auditory processing due to auditory deprivation?

Auditory deprivation is the lack of auditory stimulation over time, causing the brain to forget how to process speech efficiently and effectively. A long period of auditory deprivation can lead to poorer outcomes and lower patient satisfaction with hearing aids. Because people with hearing loss wait an average of seven years before seeking treatment, it is a concern that this delay could risk permanently impairing the brain’s ability to understand speech.[1]

Another risk associated with untreated hearing loss is earlier onset of cognitive decline. In fact, hearing loss is the now rated as the largest modifiable factor in the prevention of dementia.[2] This means that one of the easiest steps to prevention of early dementia is to treat hearing impairment. This is certainly a concern for my patients and one I do not take lightly.

Whether or not a person needs hearing aids cannot be judged solely on their perception of their hearing problem or even just on their hearing test results. That is why the counseling and advice an audiologist can provide is so important and effective. If you currently wear hearing aids, I hope that this information reinforced why you should wear your hearing aids every day. Even in these socially distanced times, hearing well is important for not just our ears but for our brain.

Are you struggling with your hearing? We would love to help. Give us a call at 712-775-2625 or click here to schedule a hearing test and a free consultation with Dr. Sondra Rierson!

[1] Hearing Review; October 21, 2019

[2] Livingston G, Huntley J, Sommerlad A. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet. July 30, 2020. DOI:


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