If you don’t currently use hearing technology but fall into the group of one in six Australians now living with hearing loss, your brain is at risk of auditory deprivation.
This somewhat daunting term refers to the process of the brain losing its ability to process incoming sound, due to a continued lack of auditory stimulation – based on a principle that Hear and Say Head of Audiologist, Julie Decker concisely summarised as “use it or lose it”.
“The longer the duration of time your brain goes without auditory input, the more you may begin to permanently lose your ability to process and understand different sounds,” said Julie.
“This is because we hear with our brains – the ears are just the pathway in. If your ears can’t hear certain sounds or frequencies because of a hearing loss, then your brain can’t receive the necessary signals and it is eventually unable to process things like a sound’s proximity, direction or meaning – or at the very least finds it more challenging.
“Over an extended period, this lack of stimulation can result in a permanent loss of speech understanding and makes maintaining your qualify of life and connections to loved ones far more difficult.”
Julie noted that early intervention was key for people to enjoy better quality hearing for longer, with causes of auditory deprivation ranging from people leaving a hearing loss untreated; using one hearing aid when wearing two was warranted, which can weaken the unaided ear’s ability to understand speech sounds over time; through to improperly programmed hearing aids which don’t meet individual hearing loss needs.
“Wearing hearing aids when you have a hearing loss ensures your brain is receiving as much stimulation as possible, keeping the auditory system of your brain active and healthy,” said Julie.
“Prevention of hearing loss wherever possible is the best approach, by ensuring regular monitoring of your hearing. That way, if there is an issue then you are well placed to take action to prevent auditory deprivation long term.”
Hear and Say’s independent Adult Hearing program takes into account an individual’s history, their lifestyle and communication goals, so that they can be best matched with the type of hearing technology that meets their personal needs.