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Fact Sheet #12 Hearing Aids - Why You Need To Wear Them All the Time

By Barbara A. Prestano, Au.D., C/ABA, CCC/A, F/AAA
Director of Audiology: ENT & Allergy of Delaware
302-998-0300 Ext 1

So you've taken that first step towards better hearing - you got hearing aids. But do you really need to wear them "all the time?" That's what you were told, but what you'd really like to do is just wear them when you "need them", right? Wrong - if you need to wear hearing aids, then you need to wear them all the time. There are many reasons why actually wearing your hearing aids and not putting them in a drawer will help you to hear better.

Recent research has linked mild hearing loss to several different medical issues including early onset dementia, brain atrophy, increased incidence of depression, increased fall risk and sensory deprivation to name a few.

Three great reasons why you should wear your hearing aids all day:

1) Our ears are designed to send sound signals to the sound processing centers of our brains. When those signals are compromised by hearing loss, then the processing centers are deprived of appropriate stimulation. Wearing hearing aids regularly, that is, all day, every day, will allow adequate stimulation and help to maintain a lot of our ability to process sound.

2) Have you ever been in a dark room and someone walked in and turned on the lights? It was uncomfortable, right? You had to shut your eyes to block out the excessive light. Well, it's the same with your ears.

When you wear hearing aids for the first time, everything seems to be excessive - you hear all kinds of sounds that you haven't been hearing for a while (similar to sitting in a dark room). When you turn on the hearing aids (like when you turn on the lights), there is a sensory overload of sorts.

But, as you slowly allow the light in, you are able to open your eyes, and soon you're able to see better. Well, if you consistently wear your hearing aids, and you let the sound in a little at a time, then you're able to hear better. If you don't allow your brain the opportunity to hear regularly, then you will have more difficulty hearing well which can be very discouraging.

3) The more you wear hearing aids, the more natural things begin to sound, and the better your ability to hear in the presence of background noise. We tend to lose hearing slowly over time. As a result, it's hard to know what we're no longer missing, because it disappears so gradually. Hearing aids don't work that way. Our brains have to be re-trained how to hear sounds. This can take time.

By regularly stimulating your brain with sounds, you are more likely to adapt to those sounds. The sounds of the birds chirping will once again sound like birds chirping. The sounds of our footsteps which might at first sound too loud will soon begin to sound like footsteps again. It takes time. It takes patience. And it takes practice.

There are always exceptions to this rule. For example, if you're going to mow the lawn, use power tools, swim, shower, shoot a gun, etc. These are all good reasons to take your hearing aids out and wear ear protection instead.

Most importantly - the more you wear hearing aids, the better you will do! Don't give up and don't get discouraged!

   For further information on any aspect of hearing loss contact Hearing Loss Association of America - Delaware at 302-292-3066 (V/relay) or email hlade@comcast.net.

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Hearing Loss - An Issue of National Health Concern

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