Often when we experience hearing loss, we tend to hear certain sounds more poorly than others. People with high frequency hearing loss report difficulty in discriminating between consonants and understanding female speakers as those sounds are located in the high frequency (high pitch) region. Similarly, people with low frequency hearing loss may have difficulty understanding male voices and vowels due to their low pitch nature.
Hearing aids are devices that can overcome these issues by amplifying specific frequencies which you have difficulty hearing in rather than amplifying all sounds equally. This helps to improve the comfort and clarity of sounds you cannot hear and prevent overamplification of sounds you can hear. Unlike the majority of online "hearing aids" sold on e-commerce platforms which are not programmed to your unique hearing level, hearing aids dispensed in hospitals and hearing centres are generally medical grade devices that should only be prescribed by a qualified audiologist. This ensures that you receive safer, well-documented and professional treatment and prevents further harm from occuring to your hearing.
But back to the original question: Can hearing aids prevent hearing loss? No, hearing aids cannot prevent nor cure hearing loss but wearing a hearing aid as early as possible will prevent auditory deprivation. Auditory deprivation is a phenomenon where your brain does not receive enough stimulation from sounds due to untreated hearing loss. This can have profound effects and even alter the structure of your brain in the long run. In other words, if you delay wearing a hearing aid, it will be even more difficult for you to understand spoken language when you decide to wear it much later in life.
The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more difficult it will be for the brain to process information as the auditory nerves which do not get stimulated will shrink. This is why untreated individuals who have suffered severe hearing loss over a span of several years may not be able to regain their speech perception entirely. Hearing aids work to prevent auditory deprivation by providing adequate stimulation to the brain.
If you have avoided wearing hearing aids for too long, it is possible that your auditory processing abilities have deteriorated. Fortunately, a study found that changes in your brain structure can be reversed with consistent hearing aid use after 6 months. Improvements were not just confined to speech perception and communication but even extended to cognitive functions as well.
Get tested for hearing loss at least once every 3 years if you are over the age of 50 or have difficulty understanding speech.
Possible signs of hearing loss include:
Through a detailed assessment of your hearing, we can determine your hearing level and decide if you are a suitable candidate for hearing aids. Book a free hearing screening now and begin your hearing loss treatment before it’s too late.
Written by: Patrick Seow, Clinical Audiologist