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 The Healthy Ear

Our ears are delicate instruments we sometimes tend to take for granted. They need care - just like any other part of our body. The ear has three main elements, The Outer, Middle and Inner Ear, each of which is vital to our ability to hear clearly. Anything which may disturb the delicate balance inside the ear can upset the way we receive and interpret sounds.

The Perils of Delay

Early testing can prevent later issues. Hearing loss usually happens gradually, and based on recent statistics, the average person waits 7 years to actually do something about their individual hearing problem. Untreated hearing loss not only affects our quality of life, it also affects the brain's ability to remember common, everyday sounds. When the hearing related nerves lose their function and no longer channel sound effectively to the brain, the brain 'forgets' the sounds over time and becomes increasingly unable to comprehend them.

Once hearing has started to fade, the brain stores sound for approximately 3 years. After approximately 7 years, the memory gradually becomes weaker and weaker. It is imperative to have your hearing tested when hearing loss is initially noticed. This can help assure that the sound signals keep flowing to the brain. (Source - Forum Besser Horen 2002).

If the fitting of a hearing aid is seriously delayed, it increases the risk that the brain will no longer recognize everyday sounds and will have to learn such sounds all over again.

Developing Social Isolation

People who suffer untreated hearing loss often find it difficult to part-take in everyday social activities, even with their own family. Common social problems include:

  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Lack of concentration
  • Problems at work - may have to give up work/retire
  • Reduced social activity
  • Problems communicating with spouse, friends and relatives
  • Loss of intimacy
  • Inattentiveness
  • Bluffing (nodding in agreement/disagreement to a question you may not have heard correctly)
  • Problems communicating with children and grandchildren

 

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