woman getting ear check
woman getting ear check

Can Hearing Loss Affect Your Brain?

In short, yes, hearing loss may indeed impact the brain. While it originates in the ear, its effects are profoundly experienced within the brain itself. Renowned neurologist Dr. Ronald Petersen notes that although the precise reasons behind this phenomenon remain unknown, certain studies have indicated a link between long-term hearing loss and structural differences in brain regions like the temporal lobe.

These neurological changes could result in other conditions alongside hearing loss, including cognitive decline and various mental health disorders. Read on to delve deeper into this complex subject.

What Part Of The Brain Is Affected By Hearing Loss?

Several parts of the brain collaborate seamlessly to give us the remarkable gift of hearing. Among these are the auditory cortex, thalamus and prefrontal cortex. These three parts of your brain harmonize with your ears, allowing you to perceive the sounds around you. It also works as a way to send the right triggers so you can promptly respond to any emergency.

When hearing loss occurs, your brain receives incomplete or weak signals from your inner ear. This makes the brain work harder than usual, leading to fatigue and exhaustion.

Can Hearing Loss Cause Dementia?

People grappling with moderate to severe hearing loss are found to be at a higher risk of developing dementia. This correlation stems from the increased cognitive load that the brain must shoulder. Years of research have concluded that cognitive decline and hearing loss are closely connected.

Recently, Johns Hopkins University explored the potential of hearing aids to shield seniors’ cognitive processes. However, more accurate results may take up to three years to show any beneficial effects of hearing intervention and reducing cognitive decline.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Mental Illnesses Due To Hearing Loss

Daily conversation and interaction become a challenge with hearing loss. About 11.4% of adults with impaired hearing reported having depression, compared to 5.9% for those with typical hearing. Also, losing your hearing at an early age may predispose you to develop schizophrenia later in life.

From entering conversations at inappropriate times and going off-topic to isolating yourself to avoid any interaction does heighten your chances of developing a mental illness. To reduce your chances, here are some examples of how to take action:

  • Actively seek medical treatment and find emotional support
  • Wear hearing aids customized for your hearing needs
  • Reduce stress through relaxation techniques
  • Get professional treatment like hearing aids

Do You Need A Hearing Test?

Hearing decline often develops slowly, so getting routine check-ups may mitigate the severity of your hearing loss. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders suggests going through the questions below. If you answer yes to three or more, you may want to talk to a hearing care professional.

  • Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
  • Do you have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?
  • Do people complain that you turn the volume of the radio or television up too high?
  • Do you have to strain to understand conversation?
  • Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
  • Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
  • Do many people you talk to seem to mumble or not speak clearly?
  • Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
  • Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
  • Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?

Regular hearing tests are crucial in reducing the risk of developing mental illnesses and cognitive decline. Don’t wait for signs of trouble; act now to preserve your cognitive health. Find your local Beltone office today.

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