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Happy New Year from all of us at Pro Hearing! If you’ve been following our articles, you might remember our November 2021 article on Common Myths Surrounding Hearing Aids (Myths about hearing aids – Part 1). We’re kicking off 2022 with a new round of hearing aid demystifications! To reiterate, our goal in doing this is to break down stigma and misinformation about hearing loss and hearing aids. We want patients to have accurate information before making informed decisions about hearing technology. Now, let’s bust some myths!
Myth #6: You only need to wear one hearing aid.
Hearing aids, in most cases, need to be fitted in pairs. However, there are exceptions to this rule! For example, when assistable hearing loss is present in one ear while the other ear has normal thresholds, two hearing aids are not needed. When one ear is unaidable due to significant damage (physical or nerve damage), two hearing aids are not required. If an ear uses a cochlear implant, it is obvious that this ear would not be equipped with an aid. Other than these circumstances, in most cases two hearing aids will be required. There are major benefits to helping binaural (bilateral) hearing loss. For example, the accuracy of sound localization increases with two hearing aids due to the ability to receive and process sound from all directions. With only one assisted ear, sound cannot be localized as easily, especially if there is loss present on the unaided side. Additionally, background noise can become increasingly overwhelming for wearers of single-sided hearing aids, as the brain cannot receive and process sound as it is designed.
Perhaps the most important reason for wearing two hearing aids is to exercise the brain. The brain is a mass information center that constantly receives, decodes and interprets sound stimuli. This is done through various auditory nerve pathways. When the brain stops being exercised by sound stimuli, over time, it harms the brain. Numerous studies have shown that untreated hearing loss is linked to a five times higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In these studies, brain images show signs of atrophy as well as a decrease in brain matter. Therefore, wearing two hearing aids (when necessary) will undoubtedly give the brain its best chance to thrive and preserve these important functions.
Myth #4: Hearing aids are too bulky and ugly
When it comes to technology, most people don’t mind putting on a Bluetooth, airpods, or headphones. However, when it comes to wearing hearing aids, there is a stigma. Ultimately, people fear wearing something that makes them look “old”. The idea that hearing aids are still giant, bulky, beige devices that stick out like a sore thumb is just a long-standing stereotype! Rest assured, the hearing aids on the market today are nothing like that! Hearing aids are now consciously made with style in mind. They’re lightweight, come in a variety of colors, typically measure around 1 inch or less (for behind-the-ear models), are designed for comfort, and even have a high-tech look. Plus, most products now double as wellness products and work as health trackers (think Fit Bit) and Bluetooth. If aesthetics is the reason for delaying the hearing aid, then wait no more! We assure you that there is something for everyone!
Myth #5: My friend/beloved does poorly with hearing aids, so I will do poorly with hearing aids.
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard, “Well, my sister hated her hearing aids” or “my friend wore hearing aids but still had trouble hearing.” Unfortunately, the experience of others is often a barrier to finding a hearing aid. It is important to note that the success of hearing aids depends on many factors, including the technology chosen. One patient may be successful with one brand while another patient may be poorly with the same brand. Hearing aids contain unique components and processing chips unique to each manufacturer that makes them. Therefore, not all hearing aids are created equal; nor are the skills of the practitioners who adapt them. Success with hearing technology is very depended on the skill of the practitioner fitting the hearing aids. A skilled and compassionate practitioner who takes a holistic approach to hearing health is key to patient success!
Also, hearing loss affects people differently, so hearing aids will benefit everyone differently. Each person has a unique story of how their hearing loss occurred, not to mention that some have contributing genetic factors! In addition, hearing is processed in the brain. Just as no two fingerprints are the same, no brain process sounds the same. That being said, we can’t stress enough that other people’s experience is a poor measure of other people’s success!
We want patients to feel encouraged by what they learn from our Pro Hearing professionals. We hope that by busting one myth at a time, we can give people who are tired of hearing technology the information they need to make more informed decisions on the path to better hearing. No better time than the New Year to start your journey to better hearing! If you or a loved one are struggling with hearing loss or have questions about hearing technology, please call us today at (405) 748-3600 or www.prohearingok.com.
Dr. Pam Matthews, Audiologist
Hearing Pro, LLC
9409 N May Avenue and 10404 S Pennsylvania Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK
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