Hearing loss doesn’t just affect your ability to process sound. It can actually change the way your brain functions.
A study from John Hopkins University followed 639 participants over 12 years. They found that hearing loss increased a person’s risk of dementia. Furthermore, that risk increased as hearing loss became more severe:
- Mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk
- Moderate hearing loss tripled risk
- Severe hearing loss made risk of dementia five times more likely
Hearing Loss May Change Structure of Brain
A study out of The Carle Illinois College of Medicine analyzed data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database. They compared MRIs of people with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and hearing loss to those with AD and normal hearing.
They found a higher incidence of shrinkage in the brainstem and cerebellum in patients with both hearing loss and AD.
Struggling to Hear Causes Mental Fatigue
While researchers are still unsure what exactly causes these brain changes, there are several possibilities. One is that struggling to hear takes a toll on your brain. Because you have to work harder to understand sounds, your brain can experience mental fatigue. Over time this can cause it to function less effectively.
Hearing Loss Deprives Your Brain of Stimulation
When you don’t hear sounds as well as you used to, the part of your brain that processes that sound doesn’t receive proper stimulation. Eventually, this may cause those parts of your brain to shrink or atrophy.
Hearing loss can also make you more likely to isolate yourself from others. Going out with friends at McGinty’s Public House may become more frustrating than enjoyable when you’re struggling to follow conversations.
This isolation further deprives your brain of needed stimulation and can accelerate cognitive decline.
Hearing Aids Can Help Your Brain
Hearing aids can help you counteract the negative effects hearing loss has on your brain. They can do this by:
- Making it easier to process speech and sound so you aren’t exhausted by trying to listen
- Providing adequate stimulation to your brain
- Helping you stay engaged during work or when socializing with friends, making you less likely to isolate.
Make an appointment with Hearing Center Silver Spring at the first sign of hearing loss to maximize the benefits of hearing aids and protect your cognitive health.