If you’re not sure whether or not you would benefit from hearing aids, then you’re not alone. It is estimated that around 48 million Americans are living with some kind of hearing loss, but only about 20% of them wear a hearing aid.
Hearing aids, however, can bring substantial improvements in your quality of life, offering improved physical and mental health. Check out the following benefits of hearing aids.
Benefit #1: Increased earning power
A study by the Better Hearing Institute found that people with hearing loss have lower earning power than those who don’t. Their study found that people with mild untreated hearing loss had more than a 90% chance of experiencing a reduction in their earnings, and those with moderate or severe hearing loss, over 70% chance.
The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but the researchers suspect that it might be to do with a person’s ability to communicate: those who can hear what the people around them are saying are more likely to impress their colleagues and rise up the ranks.
Benefit #2: Reduce risk of cognitive decline
Our brains, just like our muscles, work on a “use it or lose it” basis. You have to stimulate your brain to maintain strong neural connections; if you don’t, they could fade away. Older adults suffering from hearing loss often don’t get a sufficient level of mental stimulation and, therefore, suffer from accelerated cognitive decline. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that people with hearing loss saw the fastest rate of decrease in the auditory processing centers of their brains and that the problem got worse over time. Hearing aids, however, helped to restore normals levels of stimulation, encouraging the auditory centers of the brain to create new connections.
Benefit #3: Achieve a better quality of life
Losing your hearing has a profound impact on your quality of life. If you can’t hear what people around you are saying, you may earn less at work, and you can often feel uncomfortable in social situations. Research by the Better Hearing Institute, however, suggests that when people wear hearing aids, they enjoy a higher quality of life.
Hearing aids stop you from having to ask people to repeat themselves or “speak up.” They also make it easier for you to hear what a person is saying across a crowded room.
Benefit #4: Treat tinnitus
Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears without a physical cause. With tinnitus, the brain appears to hallucinate sounds that are not detectable by medical instruments.
People with hearing loss are more likely to experience tinnitus. Researchers think that the reason for this has to do with the lack of stimulation of the auditory cortex. When a person has hearing loss, their ears send fewer signals to the area of the brain responsible for processing sound information. This lack of information provokes that brain region to compensate by creating its own sound, a process which results in tinnitus.
Tinnitus doesn’t always take the form of a ringing or a continuous high-pitched tone: it can also manifest as a whirring, scratching or rubbing sound, depending on the individual.
The good news is that when people wear hearing aids, they often experience a reduction in the severity of their tinnitus. Hearing aids reestablish stimulation of the auditory cortex, reducing the need for it to generate its own sounds.
More than 50 million people in the US experience tinnitus regularly. More often than not, tinnitus accompanies hearing loss and can dramatically reduce a person’s quality of life. People with tinnitus can go on to develop secondary complications, such as insomnia and depression. Hearing aids, however, can reduce the severity of tinnitus, restore hearing to normal levels, and help a person get on with their life.
Benefit #5: Reduce your likelihood of developing depression
When a person loses their hearing, their instinct is to isolate themselves from social situations. Social occasions are difficult when you have hearing loss because you can’t always hear what other people are saying and have to ask them to repeat themselves constantly. It’s awkward. Many people choose to avoid social interactions, leading to feelings of depression and isolation.
The good news is that you can quickly solve the problem by wearing hearing aids, especially those with directional amplification.
If you think you may have hearing loss and want to find out more about the benefits of hearing aids, call our team of audiologists at Northgate Hearing Services at 206-367-1345. You can arrange a consultation, hearing test, or just get more information about your options.