Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline: Demystifying the Ear-To-Brain Connection
Did you know that cognitive decline correlates with hearing loss? Research has shown that individuals with untreated hearing loss may experience cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, at a faster rate than those without hearing loss.
It’s stunning and true.
According to Dr. Keith Darrow, Ph.D. Neuroscientist and Audiologist, “Nearly 50 million people suffer from hearing loss and the associated cognitive decline that goes along with it.”
Do you often have a hard time hearing a conversation in a crowded restaurant? Do you think that people mumble and need to face you or speak up? Then you might suffer from hearing loss. And if you do, treating your hearing loss EARLY is the key to slowing your cognitive decline.
That’s because, when you experience hearing loss, the brain expends extra cognitive resources to try to process degraded or incomplete auditory information, which can divert resourced from other cognitive processes, such as memory or attention. A Johns Hopkins medical study found that, “mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.”
The Five Surprising Consequences of Hearing Loss
No one likes to admit that they have a hard time hearing, but the consequences of their hearing loss could be more severe than they realize. Hearing loss can lead to multiple consequences including, but not limited to the following:
- Cognitive impairment is defined as the decrease in cognitive function. This means that there is less firing of the neurons in your brain, making fewer connections between your ears and your brain.
- There is a greater risk of dementia due to hearing loss. Your brain starts slowing and going into atrophy, or shrinking, when you develop dementia.
- Cognitive load is caused when your brain is being overloaded from background noise. When this happens, people go into isolation due to being overwhelmed and stop trying to make connections with loved ones and with those around them.
- Tinnitus is the constant ringing, buzzing, whooshing, or other sounds that the brain causes when it isn’t hearing sounds from the ears anymore. When the ear hair cells are damaged, the brain is still working to create the noise that it is no longer receiving from the ears. Tinnitus can be caused by many things including stress, lack of sleep, smoking, dehydration, traumatic brain injury, etc.
- There is a higher chance that you are likely to fall or lose your balance when you have hearing loss. Even your stability while walking can be affected by lack of hearing.
Anyone who is experiencing these symptoms of hearing loss or has a loved one who is knows that these things affect everyday life.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss Includes Delaying Cognitive Decline
Everyone knows that ignoring your hearing loss will have a negative impact on everyday life, but it will also hasten your cognitive decline.
Treating hearing loss will actually decrease your risk of dementia, cognitive impairment, cognitive load, and tinnitus. It also helps reduce the risk of falls as we increase the stimulation in the brain. Who wouldn’t want to improve their quality of life and greatly reduce these risks to have a longer time to be present with their loved ones?
Hearing Loss Treatment Options in the Meridian and Caldwell, Idaho Area
At Everything Hearing in Meridian and Caldwell, Idaho, we specialize in the personal treatment of hearing loss that goes well beyond traditional hearing aids. (And of course, we provide hearing aids for purchase and lease!)
Our practice goes beyond the traditional audiology treatments.
Since everyone’s hearing loss differs, we use various tools to treat individual hearing loss. Some of these treatment tools include:
- Cognivue screenings
- Listening and Communication Enhancement Auditory Training
- Aural Rehabilitation Software
- And Of Course, Hearing Aids
We have two Idaho locations, in Caldwell and in Meridian, so that we are easily accessible to anyone in the Treasure Valley area who is seeking to learn more about their hearing loss and the Technical Treatment Plan options we offer. Contact us for a free booklet with more information or make an appointment today!