“Should I wear my hearing aids every day?” is a question we’re asked many times. Our patients will often equate their hearing aids to reading glasses. They will tell us that, “I only wear my reading glasses when I know I’ll need them, can’t I do the same thing with my hearing aids?”
ADJUSTING TO YOUR HEARING AIDS
In the beginning adjusting to your new hearing aids will take some time. The adjustment period and ultimately how well you’ll do with hearing aids will vary from person to person depending on a variety of factors including:
- How long you waited to do something about your hearing loss.
- The amount of residual hearing you have remaining.
- Your word discrimination ability.
- How long you wear your hearing aids on a daily basis.
How long you wear your hearing aids on a daily basis is included in this because of the relevancy of neural plasticity. If you or someone you know has a hearing loss, has hearing aids or will be getting hearing aids anytime soon then please take the time to read the information below.
Neural plasticity is the capacity of neurons and neural networks in the brain to change their connections and behavior in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction. Rapid change or reorganization of the brain’s cellular or neural networks can take place in many different forms and under many different circumstances. Neuroplasticity occurs when neurons in the brain sprout and form synapses.
As the brain processes sensory information, frequently used synapses are strengthened while unused synapses weaken. Eventually, unused synapses are eliminated completely in a process known as synaptic pruning, which leaves behind efficient networks of neural connections.
WHY IS NEURAL PLASTICITY IMPORTANT?
The second paragraph above under “Neural Plasticity” is a great explanation as to why you should do something about your hearing loss as soon as you have a problem. The longer you wait, the more your brain changes in response to how it processes what it hears.
When you do finally get hearing aids the process of neural plasticity (which is constantly ongoing) has to again reorganize the way it’s processing the information it receives. It only makes sense that the more you wear your hearing aids and thereby the more consistently you reinforce the way you should be hearing, the more quickly the brain will respond to the change.
Spending half the day hearing impaired and the other half of the day with significantly improved hearing capabilities will only serve to confuse your brain and ultimately it just doesn’t make any sense.