Most people with a hearing loss get used to the fact that they often do not understand what others say to them. Usually their misunderstandings of spoken words are blamed on the noise, or other outside factors in their immediate surroundings. Often, those coming to our clinic complain about not being able to comprehend voices on the radio or TV, or the fact that they cannot have a conversation with their loved ones. All these situations are reflecting loss of speech understanding; a process which takes place in our brains.
Our sense of hearing provides a foundation of learning right from the moment we are born. The human brain uses its sense of hearing to catalog all new sounds, and then creates a form of library by memorizing them. Each sound is memorized according to its value and meaning. This is a simple example of how our ears work with the brain to create knowledge, and thus provide a sense of safety important for survival.
What’s even more important is how this catalog of sounds helps us in learning to speak and communicate with others. It’s one of the reasons why our first spoken words are the ones we hear most often: usually “mama” or “dada”. After this initial familiarization process with sounds, we begin to not so much focus on individual sounds, but tend to be more consciously aware of their existence around us. In our daily lives, we pay more attention to new sounds, learn them, catalog them and move on to new ones. This library of sounds works well while we are young by helping us to immediately hear and recognize familiar voices, regardless of where we are, be it at a party, a restaurant or even in a loud workplace. Unfortunately, after the age of 40, our brain capabilities change and start to deteriorate. Problems with hearing loss are just part of the number of other health issues, which come with an old age. Only a small percentage of “lucky” people can enjoy their golden years untouched by hearing, vision and other health losses. The rest of the population has to deal with an array of various ailments as they age according to what the medicine of geriatrics teaches us.
As hearing loss progresses, the spoken words are no longer recognized by the brain’s library. It’s actually a great example of how perfect the nature adapts to its surroundings and even the best computers cannot compete with our body’s flexibility. Our brain, not being able to recognize a given sound, i.e. book, goes through the process of elimination of all similar sounds we hear at the moment and which were cataloged previously in its library. We slowly lose the ability to distinguish sounds resulting in difficulty understanding speech. The loss makes us “catch” every second spoken word or so; it starts to feel as if others speak too fast for us to grasp the understanding. The process deteriorates slowly but surely with every day, month, and year as we get older. Statistically speaking, our hearing is expected to decline by 5 per cent every year, and in some cases, it can decline even as fast as 15 per cent. The constant noise of modern surroundings in our daily lives makes us even more susceptible for the inevitable hearing loss as we age.
Hearing aids can decelerate the process in some cases and even allow for the significant improvement in speech recognition. Use of state of the art hearing aids, along with a special therapy program based on the most advanced findings in brain studies; make for spectacular results in people diagnosed with hearing loss. Although it’s impossible to recover 100 per cent of the lost hearing, new hearing aids do guarantee a substantial gain in understanding speech in basically all circumstances.
Modern technical knowledge has helped the development of previously unavailable opportunities for improving hearing loss in people. Improved technology is currently being used in developing a new generation of hearing aids that give extraordinary results to improving people’s hearing losses. It’s also important to recognize people’s needs, and to help them with realistic expectations from hearing aids, in regards to regaining speech understanding.
The speech regaining process had been a focus of various scientific studies for a long time now. However, it has only been in recent years when clinically tested methods accomplished measurable outcomes for those with hearing loss. We are proud to announce that Metro Hearing Aid Clinic is one of only a few facilities of this kind available in Canada, where only the most advanced forms of therapy are being offered to clients through both the use of sophisticated technology and specially formulated programs in determining the best solution in regaining hearing loss and speech understanding. Our hearing aid specialists’ possess upgraded knowledge and skills and extensive experience in providing the best care to all clients and their needs.
All those interested in finding out more about how hearing aids can improve one’s personal and social life are invited for a free consultation at our clinic in Mississauga.
Alicja Tobola M.A., HIS, Registered Assistive Devices Program Authorizer
Janusz Tobola B.Sc, HIS , Registered Assistive Devices Program Authorizer