PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF UNTREATED HEARING LOSS
You hear with your brain not your ears. The ear converts sound waves to mechanical energy, then to electrical energy which then stimulates your brain. Studies have shown that adults with onset Alzheimer’s disease have nearly double the incidence of hearing loss than the rest of the population of the same age group.
EFFECTS OF UNTREATED HEARING LOSS
For the person who experiences hearing difficulties, hearing loss is often just the beginning of a series of social obstacles. Hearing problems have been linked to changes in personality. Characteristics that have left the individual open to ridicule and criticism. It’s easy to understand why many individuals who are victims of hearing loss become withdrawn, suspicious of others, indecisive, angry, and hostile as their self-image becomes steadily eroded.
The most common type of hearing loss is sensory-neural hearing loss. In 80% of the cases, this type of hearing loss exists in both sides of the brain and needs to be treated on both sides of the head. The encouraging news is that people with this type of loss can be helped, usually with binaural hearing aids in combination with aural rehabilitation.
Sensory-neural hearing loss occurs most often as a part of the aging process, developing gradually over a period of many years. Typically, the change is so gradual that the individual is not aware of the change as it occurs. Unlike other physical problems, hearing loss is not physically noticeable and it doesn’t hurt. How, then, do we know that it exists?
Hearing loss manifests itself in the way that the individual acts in various social situations and by the way he interacts with others. Usually, it is a spouse or other relative, a friend, or a business associate who will notice the problem first.
The affected individual is unable to really define what is happening. In fact, he finds it confusing. Due to the nature of sensory-neural hearing loss, the individual may not notice any real change in the way he hears noise.
Sensory-neural hearing losses usually begin in the high frequency/speech range and gradually progress into the mid and low frequencies. As a result, he will find it more difficult to understand conversation. It is not uncommon to hear a person with sensory-neural hearing loss say, “I can hear but, I don’t understand.”
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