Hearing loss doesn’t just dull one of your senses, untreated hearing loss can cause a decline in cognitive function. If hearing loss goes untreated the brain will “forget” sounds that it has stopped hearing.
Have you ever thought about what happens once sound enters your ears? Just as the brain interprets the images your eyes see, the brain is also responsible for interpreting the sound your ears collect. Very simply, here’s how it works:
- Your outer ear (pinna) acts like a satellite dish to collect sound in our environment and funnel it to the inner ear.
- The inner ear translates the sound into electrical impulses and sends it along the auditory nerve.
- Once the electrical impulses reach the brain, it interprets them into recognizable sound.
The cochlea – the nerve centre of hearing is tonotopically organized. This is a fancy way of saying that each section of the cochlea is responsible for a specific section of frequencies that we hear. The cochlea sends these frequency messages up the auditory nerve and onto the brain, where the sound is interpreted. When hearing loss occurs, certain sections are no longer stimulated and therefore those nerves are no longer stimulated either.
What happens over time, is that the nerves are deprived of those sounds and they become atrophied – just like your leg muscles if you were in a cast for an extended period of time. Using a hearing aid continues to provide the nerves with stimulation of sound and therefore prevents atrophy. If someone delays trying hearing aids, sometimes the nerves can be deprived for so long, that they no longer work properly, even when stimulated. This is called auditory deprivation.
What results is distortion. The nerves get some activation, but because they have been deprived for so long, the message is contaminated with distortion.
This is probably one of the biggest reasons why some people are not satisfied with their hearing using aids. It doesn’t sound how they remember, and there is extra “noise” in the signal they are hearing.
Most hearing loss occurs gradually over time, and it is best to have a baseline hearing test so that you and your professional can track changes over time.
Hearing loss is often very treatable, and at Hearing Sense we treat a wide range of people with a wide range of hearing loss. The benefits of finally being able to hear again after seeking treatment can be a huge relief after years spent hiding the condition or avoiding treatment.
Have you experienced changes in your hearing? Do you struggle to follow conversations or find it difficult to hear speakers in noisy places? It could be a hearing loss. If you are ready to finally get treatment for your hearing condition, Hearing Sense can help. Give us a call on 8331 8047 to book your FREE appointment.