Hearing loss can have a dramatic impact on your life. it can affect your job prospects, your relationships with others and your emotional well being. hearing aids have the unique ability to improve your hearing and your ability to process the sounds around you. In order for this to happen the correct hearing aid should be chosen and there needs to be a good understanding of what the hearing aid can and cannot do for you.
Many people see hearing as a simple function of the ear. In reality it is highly complex. The ear receives the sound and changes it from sound energy to electrical energy. The inner ear organizes the sound based on the pitch or frequency and the loudness. There are tiny hairs in the inner ear and based on the pitch and loudness of the incoming sound different hairs are activated. This information is then sent to the brain. The brain is then taxed with the responsibility of identifying the sound, determining if the sound is of importance to you and drawing from your memory to determine how you personally want to react to the sound. This is all done in milliseconds.
When there is damage to the tine hairs in the ear the brain is now getting incorrect, altered and distorted information. Because of this the brain now is required to function differently in order for the person to understand the sound. The brain actually changes how it works because of the lack of the correct information from the ear. Because of this it becomes extremely more difficult for the brain to listen to one thing while trying to ignore something else. Hence, increased difficulty understanding speech in a restaurant or other noisy setting
If hearing loss is related to the damage to these tiny hair cells, the most likely way to improve the situation is to wear hearing aids. this is especially true if the hearing loss is the same in both ears. So how do hearing aids actually try to copy what the ear is doing? In short, they can’t do exactly the same thing. Today’s technology is getting better and better.
Each hearing aid as at a minimum one microphone and most have two. The microphone picks up the sound, the amplifier makes the sound louder and the receiver sends the amplified sound to your ear. However, there is also a computer chip in the hearing aid. The computer chip analyzes the sound that the microphone receives. It determines if the sound is loud or soft, what are the pitches or frequencies, where is the sound located and what is the sound doing? For example the sound of your heat pump running is dramatically different from your loved one’s voice or from a fork dropping or a baby crying. Based on several criteria the sounds are amplified differently given the answers to those questions.
That sound is then routed through the ear and ultimately to the brain. However, because most people are aware of some degree of hearing loss up to 15 years before they actually act on wearing hearing aids the brain has rewired itself to use sound in a different and more inefficient manner. This routing results in more effortful listening. New research shows that with consistent use of hearing aids and the re-introduction of sound, the brain is able to re-wire itself back to a more typical pattern of processing. This leads to better, but not normal, hearing, processing and ultimately understanding of the speech and language around you.
If you need assistance making the right choice in hearing aids for your hearing loss and your unique communication needs see the audiologists at Wilmington Hearing Specialists. Call us at 910 799 4755 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org