Happy 2022 everyone! As we start this new year many of us may be making our new year resolutions or setting our goals for 2022. If you currently wear hearing aids there is one goal that I ask you to consider; wearing your hearing aids consistently and often. I often have patients ask me “Do I need to wear my hearing aids all the time? Even when I’m home alone?” The answer is YES. It is important to wear your hearing aids consistently and ideally for all waking hours. Of course, when you are sleeping take your hearing aids off as well as when showering or swimming. But in most circumstances the hearing aids should be in your ears.
Even when you are home alone there are still sounds in your environment that you should be hearing. This may be hearing the tv or the radio, or being able to hear the smoke detector alarm or the beeping of your microwave or even just hearing the meowing of your cat. There are always sounds in our environment that are important.
Aside from wanting to hear these sounds, it is also incredibly important for our brain health to have access to a variety of sounds throughout the day. When our auditory system is deprived of sound over time this can change our auditory processing abilities. Hearing is something that takes practice. Our brain needs stimulation and consistent use of hearing aids to better interpret and understand sounds when we want it to. So even if you are staying at home alone with little interaction, the brain is using this time to practice hearing and understanding sounds so that when you are in a busier environment and want to hear better, your brain is more up for the challenge.
It is normal for most people to need some time to adjust to wearing hearing aids and they may need to slowly increase their time wearing hearing aids. When we stop wearing hearing aids for an extended period of time our brain needs to start this process all over again and our brain has to put more energy into hearing. If you currently have hearing aids than you have already taken a very important step to better hearing and brain health. Consider taking that next step to consistent use of your hearing aids and reaping the full benefits of your hearing aids!
Michaela Nikolai, Au.D., CCC-A
Author Michaela Nikolai, AuD Michaela is a Doctor of Audiology at Andros ENT & Sleep center.