Waiting Too Long to Get HAs Loses Ability to Understand Words?

An acquaintance who seems to know quite a bit about hearing loss said if you wait too long to get HAs you can permanently lose the ability to distinguish words. This doesn’t seem reasonable to me. Has anyone else heard of this? If so, do you know of a reference I could read about it?

If a person only uses one hearing aid for many years, and then tries to use two hearing aids, the brain seems to only notice noise in the newly aided ear; speech recognition seems to be lost. This is just my opinion; I am not an expert. A member of my family seems to have this problem; her audio gram of the formerly unaided ear shows the same loss as the one that was always aided and yet she can not understand speech from the formerly unaided ear with the result that she does not use the new hearing aid.

I have heard it suggested that the auditory neurons get reallocated to vision if left too long without significant signals.

This means that reactivating the hearing system via a hearing aid will no longer work because ‘nobody is at home’ in the brain.

The term is auditory deprivation.

You can think of it as the brain getting lazy and paying less attention to listening for sounds that it no longer hears properly. Like not exercising a muscle for so long it wastes away.

I don’t have any science to throw at you right now. But from personal observation, it does seem to me that the longer a patient waits to try hearing aids, the more time and effort it takes to get them hearing well again. And those who leave it a really long time don’t seem to ever enjoy the same quality of results as those who tackle the problem early on.

Because there is little hard proof of this effect - although most believe it does indeed exist - we in the UK are STRONGLY advised NOT to mention it to clients … especially if you try to use fear of this effect to convert a single aid sale to a double aid sale.

Indeed, but then there are a bunch of very good arguments to prescribe binaural.

Now interestingly I have a number of patients in the UK and US who are retired medical doctors. When I asked them for their opinion of this they stated they believed that leaving a loss too long is a bad idea, for some of the reasons I mentioned before.

Sure, not scientific, but I’ve observed it.

I know that when I was looking into cochlear implants I was told by a few doctors that the longer I waited the less chance of success I would have. Auditory memory only lasts for about 8 years, or so doctors have told me, and that means that as those 8 years go by you will literally forget what things sound like and therefore lose the ability to process such sounds. At least that is what the ENT told me…

there is a paper where it has some survey on
auditory deprivation, ill look for it…

but other than that I have not found any info…

I have been wearing HA’s for about 30 years and during that time my speech comprehension has gone from 96% to 45%, of course my overall hearing loss has also gone from mild to profound. I think the aids are making things worse.:rolleyes:

This is why dispensers should be ashamed.

Something critical to our knowledge (seeking a way for our sanity), but they are in the rush of distorting knowledge to blur our minds.

Yes everybody is trying to make money, but is this ethical in health issues?

(Meanwhile, I believe hearing deprivation is a real phenomena) Moreover, I read many pdfs talking bout this


Page 102 has positive statements to this discussion.

Studies on auditory deprivation show that there are cases when speech discrimination ability have decreased in the unaided ear in monaural fittings. Many times, it will return when the unaided ear is then aided. I always mention this as one of the many reasons to wear two hearing aids when you have hearing loss in both ears. I would rather have a patient buy two less expensive hearing aids than one very expensive hearing aid because the binaural factor is so important (for hearing in noise, localization, loudness summation, and LASTLY the chance of auditory deprivation effects). For me, it has nothing to do with upselling to 2 aids and everything to do with the chances of success for the patient.

I don’t know of any conclusive studies that show significant effects of auditory deprivation of someone just waiting to buy hearing aids in general. I know of dispensers who try to scare people into buying when they’re not ready by telling them that “not buying hearing aids will make their hearing worse.” This is unethical because it is not supported by research.

Certainly, if an individual has a profound hearing loss (essentially no hearing at all), effects of auditory deprivation are seen. That is why it is recommended for parents of deaf infants to, kind of, choose a mode of communication as soon as possible because cochlear implantation on a pre-lingually deafened individual is more successful the younger they are, but based on your question I don’t think this applies to you.

It is important to note that as we get older, our brains are slower to process…everything. Vision usually gets worse; manual dexterity gets worse, etc. Hearing aids take some getting used to as well, and older adults are less receptive to change. That’s why if you have hearing loss that affects your quality of life, and you’re younger, it’s probably a good idea to do something about it sooner. Just because it will be easier to adjust to now, rather than later. (Not to mention, why miss out on so much now?)

Bottom line: auditory deprivation is a real thing, but hearing healthcare professionals should be more specific when explaining it to patients.