I’ve never heard anyone ever say, “I can’t wait to have hearing loss!” No, it’s not exciting. No, it doesn’t make us feel young. But, ignoring it could be the worst mistake you ever make. The fact is, we actually hear with our brains. If you missed it, check out our blog, Hearing Loss: What it is and What Happens When You Learn You Have it? Yup, hearing actually happens in the brain and our ears function more like funnels for sound.
Over the past decade or more, research has proven that failing to treat hearing loss has serious health consequences. According to recent studies by Johns Hopkins Medicine, people with untreated hearing loss experience and increased incidence of cognitive diseases, such as dementia and depression. Did you know Dementia is actually NOT part of the normal aging process? Adults with mild hearing loss are two times more likely to develop Dementia. If you have a moderate hearing loss, your chances of getting Dementia increase by three, and if you suffer from severe hearing loss you are five times more likely to develop dementia.
Hearing Loss and Cognitive Health
As one of our five senses, humans use hearing to understand the world. Just like with impaired vision, diminished hearing can lead to less brain stimulation, which is a risk-factor for an overall decline in thinking skills and cognitive function.
When experiencing healthy hearing, your brain is able to process sounds naturally and virtually instantly, so much so that you would seldom notice any processing at all. When hearing problems occur, however, that processing becomes slower and, at times, is simply unable to identify and process sounds, which can creative cognitive difficulties.
A healthy brain is used to finding meaning from a full range of sound signals. When you have hearing loss, those sound signals become choppy and incomplete. When incomplete sound signals are sent to the brain, the brain must do extra work to piece together meaning. Hearing loss fundamentally changes the way our brain interprets and understands sound signals. This can be exhausting, confusing and overwhelming for a person with hearing loss.
Cognitive Functioning and Hearing Health
When hearing loss is left untreated, especially for a long period of time, the brain is forced to pull attention away from other important mental tasks in order to try harder to understand sound signals. Scientists and researchers cite this as an important factor in the link between hearing loss and cognitive problems.
A recent news release from Johns Hopkins Medicine states, “Shrinkage in these areas [the brain] might simply be a consequence of an impoverished auditory cortex, which could become atrophied from lack of stimulation…without normal auditory brain stimulation, a measure of atrophy occurs that affects more than just sorting sounds and languages.”
In fact, continued, long-term mental staining may encourage the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. This type of loss in cognitive function can detract from our ability to coordinate our physical actions or correctly perceive obstacles. Hearing loss left untreated will not correct itself on its own. Period. It will not just go away. It WILL worsen.
This is not the end of the road though. There is help! Today, modern hearing solutions help virtually eliminate the mental strain that hearing loss creates on the brain and can help support increased overall cognitive brain function, even if you are experiencing significant hearing loss.
Solutions like hearing aids help the auditory system relearn natural paths of hearing and restore missing information to the auditory palette. Although hearing aids cannot give you back your original hearing, they can work with the hearing abilities you have left in order to create a healthy and happier quality of life for those suffering with hearing loss.
Physicians Hearing Solutions offers 100% free Complete Hearing Screening. There is no office fee and your insurance is not billed. It’s time to find out about the quality of your hearing health. Call today (401) 921-0181 or reach out online at www.PHSDOCS.com.
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