Did you know that we hear with our brain?

Most people think we hear with our ears, but really our brain does all the work. Hearing is the process of sound traveling from our outer ear through each layer of our ear and up to our brain. Listening on the other hand, is when our brain attributes meaning to the sounds we are hearing.

Inside our brain is a special place called a mental lexicon. This is where we store information for what sound should sound like. When our ears send the information to our brain, it matches it to what we have stored in our lexicon and we recognize it and attribute meaning. This is why we don’t understand a language we have never learned.

When we have hearing loss, the information our ear is sending is traveling through a damaged system, so it is not as easy for our mental lexicon to recognize. In order to understand the sound, our brain has to take the time to thoroughly process the sound before we can recognize its meaning. When our brain does this, it pulls resources from other areas in the brain such as short term memory and decision making processes. This means we need more time to process and assess the information and our brain is putting more effort and resources into listening than it should. Long term memory and cognitive ability can be permanently impacted by this process of overworking the brain. This is one of the factors that can increase your risk of dementia; and why it is important to seek treatment early.

Signs that you should have your hearing tested. If you answered YES to any of the following questions, call us to schedule your hearing evaluation.

  • Establish a baseline to check for overall health if you are over the age of 65.
  • Do you have tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in your ear)?
  • Do you feel fatigued or frustrated after a social event?
  • Do you feel that you have stopped enjoying social activities you once enjoyed?
  • Do you have difficulty following a conversation with multiple speakers like in a group?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing in noisy restaurants?
  • Do people sound like they are mumbling?
  • Do you have difficulty understanding speech on the telephone?
  • Can you understand men better than women or children?
  • Do you seem to hear better out of one ear better than the other?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing someone who is speaking in a whisper?
  • Do you find yourself turning up the volume on the TV?
  • Do your family members make comments about your ability to hear?
  • Do you frequently ask people to repeat themselves?
  • Have you been or are you frequently exposed to loud noises?

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