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Offered by: John Wilson, B.S., BC-HIS, Blue Ribbon Hearing & Tinnitus Center

Blue RibbonDuring my sophomore year of college, I first heard the term GIGO in a computer information systems class. GIGO is an acronym that stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out. In computer processing terms it means that the collected data must be accurate and pertinent, or any calculations or decisions made will be worthless.

Years later as I learned that many of the early signs and symptoms Alzheimer’s and dementia are the same as hearing loss, I recalled the term GIGO. Many individuals with hearing loss do not know or do not believe they have a problem. Therefore, they are not aware when they mishear and their brain processes, interprets, and stores the misheard information as fact when it is not correct. This could be referred to as Garbage in. Incorrect hearing leads to confusion, miscommunication, and poor or incorrect decision making, or Garbage Out.

Regularly, I share the story of a patient whose vanity superseded her desire to get new hearing aids. After a significant amount of time passed, she came in with her daughter and requested new hearing aids. When I asked her why she changed her mind, she was too embarrassed to answer. Her daughter informed me that they had gone to an appointment and her mother agreed to have surgery that she did not actually want to have performed, because she did not accurately hear and understand what the doctor was telling her.

Mishearing matters for many reasons. Hearing correctly can improve communication, relationships, memory and decision making. Having a complete audiometric evaluation and getting help, such as hearing aids, are keys to ensuring correct information is being input into your brain.

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