Commonly, we hear from our patients that they’ve not been disciplined in using their hearing aids. Sometimes, that’s because they might be over-conscious of them or not understand the negative effects of not wearing them.
Your overall health could suffer when you don’t wear your hearing aids. This article will make you aware of the benefits of wearing them, but also warn you of the risks associated when you don’t.
Can not wearing hearing aids make my hearing worse?
If you regularly miss wearing your hearing aids, then yes, there will be a negative effect on your hearing. However, there could be other factors to consider.
Regardless of whether you’re wearing your hearing aid or not, over time your hearing can slowly worsen. In the immediate present, your hearing will worsen because you’re not wearing the aid, but gradually you may experience problems.
You may find that your ability to comprehend speech will deteriorate more quickly if you don’t wear your hearing aids regularly.
There are a few causes of why your hearing may worsen when not wearing hearing aids:
It’s all about training your brain to hear noise
Often, individuals might only put on their hearing aids when they’re leaving the house. But this practice can cause you further problems when it comes to the state of your hearing. The brain does most of the heavy lifting in regard to the process of hearing, so the ear is just the instrument that picks up sounds and noise. In the brain, these sounds are dealt with, that’s how we hear.
We answer many questions from patients, one of them being ‘do I have to use my hearing aids at all times?’. Usually, you do have to wear them all the time, though there are a few circumstances where you don’t.
We would give the advice that you should wear your hearing aids all the time, but not when being exposed to water or going to sleep. If you’re going swimming, having a shower or bathing, it’s best to keep the aids somewhere safe and dry.
The reason you must wear them all the time is that you have to get acquainted with the nuances of different sounds. Speech can easily be drowned out by noises in the background. Exposure to different noise environments can help you recognise different sounds and focus on the important ones.
Doing this, you’ll not be so disorientated. You can also start to grow a tolerance for higher volume noise. This will aid in making your hearing consistent and your environment will sound more natural.
On the other hand, if you remove your hearing aids at every opportunity, thinking they’re not needed, your poor brain has to reconfigure its processing of sound. Doing this multiple times a day will make this worse.
However, if you’re new to hearing aids, feel free to take little breaks during the day. As you gain more competence, you can slowly increase the time you have them in.
Your hearing is linked to your memory
Whilst you won’t cause memory loss by not being able to hear well, being affected by hearing loss can worsen your ability to use your memory. Straining to hear what is being said will make a difficult time of concentrating and organising your thoughts. This means that you’ll not be able to follow the conversation and bring it back from memory if you can’t hear the entire speech.
Having to fill in the blanks whilst you make conversation on a daily basis can be tiring. You may even experience confusion and fatigue. Furthermore, these symptoms can start to tip you into a deterioration of memory. Particularly when your long-term memory plays a large role in attention span.
Not only will you enhance your level of hearing when you use hearing aids, but you will also help your brain reduce the amount of focus it requires in conversation. Additionally, you will improve your ability to remember, retaining information more easily.
The risks of not wearing your hearing aids
- Poor hearing aid usage is linked to health decline:A lot of research has been conducted into the links between overall health and hearing. In 2020, a study recognised that individuals affected by severe hearing loss who had poor hearing aid usage, would leave the house less which contributed to the worsening of health.
- Mental health can be made worse by hearing loss:It can be difficult to connect with others when you’re unable to fully understand them. This can be quite devastating to your ability to socialise and your general well-being. This has been linked to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
- There are links between hearing loss and dementia: It’s widely researched that regular use of your hearing aids helps fight cognitive deterioration. Where hearing loss can bring up issues with mental awareness, using your hearing aids can help stave off problems in your brain.
- Balance and hearing go hand in hand:The vestibular system is tucked inside your ear, you wouldn’t be able to walk in a straight line without it. This is because it helps you keep balance. Being able to hear well means that you’re aware of your surroundings, aiding your spatial awareness. The Washington University School of Medicine conducted research that suggested ‘enhancing hearing appears to improve balance in older adults with hearing loss‘. This is because test subjects achieved higher balancing scores with hearing aids in both ears.
Having to wear hearing aids can be irritating, but they are there to help you. Once adjusted, your quality of life will improve. And this improvement shines above the negative aspects.
Are you struggling with your hearing? Book in for a hearing screening test today.