Treating hearing loss is not simply about improving your ability to hear. It is also about keeping your brain healthy. When you experience hearing loss, your brain reorganizes in order to compensate for the loss. This means that the areas of your brain that are devoted to senses such as sight or touch diminish so that your brain can deal with your hearing loss. While your brain can eventually adapt to your rewiring needs, serious cognitive effects can remain. In fact, there are scientific links between untreated hearing loss and mental decline.
These connections can be especially risky for older people who are experiencing hearing loss. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that one out of three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have some degree of hearing loss. The number goes up to almost 50 percent for people who are over the age of 75. Considering the links between hearing loss and mental decline are important steps in the larger process of treating hearing loss.
Study On Cognitive Decline And Hearing Loss
In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers at Johns Hopkins determined that people with hearing loss experienced declines in thinking skills faster than among those without it. The study took place over six years and included almost 2,000 volunteers who were over age 70. Researchers found that volunteers with hearing loss scored less on the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination, a test assessing cognitive impairment. Researchers estimated that people with normal hearing would take approximately 11 years to develop cognitive impairment. Older adults with hearing loss, however, are estimated to develop cognitive impairment in under eight years. While there is not a definitive, causal link between hearing loss and cognitive impairment, there is certainly a relationship.
Treating hearing loss is important for maintaining cognitive health. Devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants stimulate brain activity in a variety of ways, and they can be very important tools in the long-term maintenance of healthy hearing, of course, but also the maintenance of a healthy brain and body. Isabelle Mosnier of Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris in France conducted a study of 94 people who were between 65 and 85 years old. The study was released in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. In it, Mosnier and her associates reported that their participants had profound deafness in at least one ear, and they each received a cochlear implant. Study researchers then conducted auditory rehabilitation with the participants twice a week. Mosnier and her colleagues found that more than 80 percent of study participants who had the lowest cognitive scores demonstrated significant improvement one year after having the cochlear implant.
The Effects Of Hearing Loss On Your Health
There are other ways that hearing loss impairs cognitive health. There are scientific links between untreated hearing loss and experiences of anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression can arise as the result of the isolation that people with hearing loss can experience. Untreated hearing loss of course affects people’s abilities to hear friends, loved ones, and coworkers. This can make people with hearing loss unwilling to attend functions where many people will be talking at once, or where there is a lot of noise at once. It can impede people’s abilities to, say, answer the phone at work for fear of not hearing the person on the other end. People with untreated hearing loss can suffer from nervousness and anxiety about having conversations for fear that they will talk too loudly or too softly because they cannot accurately assess the volume levels of those they are speaking with. In short, hearing loss can make people feel disconnected from the people and activities they enjoy, which can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.
Seeking Treatment For Hearing Loss
There are many ways to treat hearing loss and doing so will not only affect one’s ability to hear but can diminish the effects of cognitive decline. The first step is to visit us at Hearing Spa, where our team will assess your hearing. We will help you to find a hearing aid that suits your hearing needs and that is the right price for you. With the support of your friends, family, and health practitioners, you will most certainly learn to create communication habits that make you feel connected to your surroundings, but you will also stave off potential cognitive declines as well.