February 3, 2014
By Bob Page, Clinician
What it is and how to protect yourself from its effects
Without treatment, you can have permanent and irreversible hearing loss
Auditory Deprivation is a condition that occurs in individuals suffering from hearing loss where their brain loses the ability to interpret words due to a lack of stimulation over an extended period of time. This condition can affect hearing loss patients who do not wear hearing aids, wear old hearing aids or only wear one hearing aid when two may be necessary. Even those suffering from a mild hearing loss can be affected by this condition. If hearing loss is not treated, auditory deprivation can cause an irreversible loss of functionality. How does this happen?
You must first understand the difference between hearing and understanding. Your ears function as instruments to collect sounds and deliver these sounds to your brain. The speech interpretation center of your brain processes these sounds into words. If your ears cannot hear the sounds, then your brain does not have anything to process. The lack of stimulation in this area of the brain causes you to lose the functionality of understanding speech. So, basically if you aren’t hearing the words, you eventually lose the ability to understand them.
When our vision starts to fade, we usually wait to seek professional help until we absolutely need it. Any delay in seeking help is not usually a problem because glasses are able to correct the problem immediately. Treatment for hearing loss is quite different. The longer you delay seeking treatment for your hearing loss, the harder it will be to treat it.
Those with profound hearing loss who have suffered for a number of years may not be able to regenerate some of their speech perception. However, most hearing losses can be sufficiently amplified with the use of hearing aids to allow for near normal to normal hearing. Hearing aids will help your ability to hear and thus, stimulate your brain to protect you from auditory deprivation.
Auditory deprivation is not a guarantee if you suffer from hearing loss as long as you are proactive with your hearing health. Have your hearing tested, and if necessary find the appropriate treatment sooner rather than later. Hearing aids can be a tremendous help by providing the necessary stimulation your brain requires to continue to understand everyday speech.
Auditory Deprivation is a “use it or lose it” issue, so it is imperative that you are take action today to ensure your ability to perceive speech does not continue to deteriorate over time.