Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • October 2016
Written by 

Use it or lose your hearing

Did you know you may lose the ability to hear if you have untreated hearing loss? Hearing loss is often a gradual process a person may not notice for months, or even years. When the system we use to hear is not being used or being deprived of sound during this time, people often lose the ability to hear.

When most people think of hearing, they think of the ear. However, the ear is just one part of the body that helps us hear. The ear, the auditory nerve and the brain complete the auditory system.

The auditory system begins with noises traveling from the outer ear, through the middle ear and into the inner ear where the noises cause thousands of tiny hair cells to vibrate. These hair cells send electrical signals to the auditory nerve that connects to the brain. After the signals travel through the nerve, the brain plays an important role by translating noise signals into sounds we can understand.

When the hair cells are damaged from noise or aging, people experience hearing loss. Research shows untreated hearing loss can reduce the brain’s ability to remain strong and healthy. Primarily, the brain will begin to lose the ability to process noise and turn it into sound. With the auditory system, it’s true that you will lose it if you don’t use it. In fact, treating the auditory system after a long period of untreated hearing loss can be a great challenge.

Just as the muscles in the body become sore when exercised after a long period of no activity, the auditory system will have the difficult task of getting back into shape. During a period with no simulation, the brain will lose some of its ability to process noise. This auditory deprivation makes it more difficult for the brain to recognize sounds even with the help of hearing devices.

To prevent the effects of auditory deprivation, early intervention of any hearing loss is the key. Regular hearing tests are recommended beginning at the age of 40; however, you should have your hearing tested whenever you notice a sign of hearing loss. Signs you may have hearing loss include difficulty hearing in noisy settings, the need to turn up the volume on the television or music, or if people sound as if they are mumbling in conversations.

Hearing loss isn’t just a condition for older people. There are an estimated 48 million Americans with some degree of hearing loss, and 26 million of these people are between the ages of 20 and 69 with hearing loss resulting from noise exposure during either work or leisure activities.

If you are experiencing a sign of hearing loss, waiting will only increase the effects of auditory deprivation no matter what your age is. Don’t wait any longer, and call 920-560-6748 to schedule an appointment or visit for more information. We have six convenient locations in Antigo, Clintonville, Merrill, New London, Shawano and Waupaca in addition to our mobile unit.

Thomas Parry, Au.D, FAAA

Thomas Parry Au.D., FAAA is an audiologist serving all of northeastern Wisconsin with Appleton Audiology Associates and Hearing Services of Wisconsin. Thomas obtained his degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Western Michigan University. He has extensive experience in both hospital and private practice settings. He currently offices in Appleton, New London, Waupaca, Clintonville, Shawano, Antigo and Merrill. Please contact him at 920-560-6748 with any questions regarding identification or treatment of any hearing or ear related issues.

For more information about your hearing and cognitive health, visit our website and locations:

1520 N. Meade St., Appleton • 920-560-6748

723 Superior St., Antigo • 715-627-4199

2801 E. Main St. #5, Merrill • 715-536-0010

205 N. Shawano St., New London • 920-982-3313

1056 E. Green Bay St., Shawano • 715-524-4242

213 N. Main St., Waupaca • 715-258-0088

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