The latest hearing aids are using some incredible technology, small enough to be laid flat on a postage stamp but powerful enough to completely change the way your world sounds. But there are some things that even the best software can't do, which instead we have to relearn ourselves if we are going to enjoy the benefits of better hearing by using hearing aids.
Hearing aids are amazing devices when it comes to picking up the sounds you want to hear - but even when using the most advanced, state of the art hearing aids they are only doing half the work. The other half of the hearing process, the ability to understand sounds, comes from your brain - which has to make sense of the sounds your ears or hearing aids are presenting it with.
With hearing loss, your brain is being starved of certain sounds, usually high frequency sounds like "C", "T" and "S" sounds. Because your ears are not picking these sounds up very well, and they aren't clicking with your brain, they practically become forgotten. The connections in your brain and hearing nerve that used to transmit these sounds gradually get out of shape.
When hearing aids make these forgotten sounds much clearer, your brain suddenly has some catching up to do - and at first, these restored sounds can seem strange to hear.
But with patience and persistence, the brain will connect the dots again, and gradually you will get used to the sounds that your hearing aids are giving back to you. This could take a month or it could take three - but you will experience the benefits for life.
Let's not forget that with many hearing losses certain sounds will be missing in every part of life. Whether it's the hissing sound of traffic in town or even your cat's meow, some sounds in your everyday life can seem alien when you hear them afresh with hearing aids. But the fact remains that you are hearing these sounds again, and it is something that your brain can easily adapt to with time.
Listening & Understanding
How much of your hearing loss is actual hearing loss, and how much is listening loss? As creatures of habit, we become very accustomed to certain ways of doing things, often without noticing. And if we get in to the habit of not listening to people because of our hearing loss, we may still be in that habit even when hearing aids allow us to hear them again.
When we hear sounds, our ears and brain pick them up. When we listen, we are actively concentrating on those sounds, making sense of them, and planning how to respond to them. If the brain has fallen out of the habit of listening, this could be something that we need to relearn when we are fitted with hearing aids. The most important thing about wearing hearing aids is, quite simply, to wear them as much as possible. In this way the brain can adapt to those new sounds that are coming through as quickly as possible. If you become discouraged or put off by the results at first, and stick them away in a drawer, you'll never experience the benefits later as your brain grows accustomed to them - and the sounds that they can return to your everyday life.
5 Steps to Better Hearing
Learning to hear again using hearing aids is a journey, and one that can be broken down in to five specific steps. If you or someone you know is considering the use of hearing aids, why not find out more
Read the Five Steps to Better Hearing at www.ascenthearing.co.uk, a very useful guide which covers everything from the first stages of discovering hearing loss to doing something about it, and really benefiting from learning to use hearing aids.