December 14, 2017
If you are someone who is lucky enough to wear these amazing cybernetic devices commonly known as hearing aids, you have probably had your hearing professional tell you to wear them as often as possible. Now this makes sense in theory, but what if you only need them in certain situations? Do you still need to wear them all day, every day?
Short answer? Yes.
The topic is going to wander a bit in this paragraph, but stay with me! The thing about hearing loss is it tends to be gradual. A great example I’ve heard is that experiencing hearing loss is like being in a room where the light is very slowly dimmed over time. It’s a gradual enough change that your eyes are able to adjust to less and less light. Sure, there will be some times when you are suddenly aware of how dim (quiet) the room has become, but it won’t be too bothersome…until suddenly it is. That’s when you get a pair of hearing aids and it’s like the doctor has suddenly “flipped the lights back to bright.” Your brain (the organ you actually hear with) is going to be overwhelmed with all the little sounds you haven’t realized you’ve been missing, so you aren’t going to want to wear them 14+ hours per day right away. And that’s just fine! Build up to wearing them; start with 1-3 hours and take a break, 3-8 hours and take a break until you are comfortable wearing them all day.
Now, what if you only need them in certain situations, like business meetings or during class? You should still wear them all the time, even when you are home alone watching TV or gardening – your brain needs to learn how to adapt to receiving more sound information, otherwise you may not be as successful wearing them when you actually need them. Believe it or not, learning to tune out the hum of the refrigerator is good for you!
To get a little more scientific, the reason you need to wear your hearing aids all the time is because the brain truly is a “use it or lose it” organ. If you are not receiving as much sound information, your brain begins to reallocate nutrients and energy away from the hearing sections. If you are only amplifying enough sound for the situations you have trouble with, you will not be giving your brain enough of a reason to rebuild those hearing sections. If you use your hearing aids all the time and receive all the sounds, important or otherwise, your brain will rebuild your hearing sections much more easily and far more quickly.
Fun Random Fact: Did you know that the Canary Islands were not named after the canary bird? Not entirely, at least. The other source is a mastiff breed known as the Perro de Presa Canario, or the Canary Mastiff. This is a dog that was bred to be large and muscular to work with livestock and it was given almost supernatural status in many cultural beliefs, much like cats in ancient Egypt.