Can Brain Atrophy be Triggered by Hearing Loss?

Woman with long dark hair and black rimmed glasses experiencing cognitive decline.

Hearing loss is usually accepted as just a normal part of the aging process: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps going up. We may even notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also often regarded as a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more widespread in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But what if the two were somehow related? And, even better, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?

The connection between mental decline and hearing loss

Most individuals don’t connect hearing loss with mental decline and dementia. However, the link is quite clear if you look in the right places: if you’re experiencing hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who cope with hearing loss also often deal with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.

Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?

There is a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline, and though there’s no solid proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are exploring some compelling clues. They think two main situations are responsible: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of isolation. And people are not as likely to socialize with others when they have hearing loss. Many people find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health problems can be the result of this path of solitude.

In addition, researchers have found that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. Ultimately, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the part of the brain responsible for hearing. This overworks the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.

Using hearing aids to stop cognitive decline

Hearing aids are our first weapon against cognitive decline, mental health issues, and dementia. When patients use hearing aids to manage hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more individuals would just wear their hearing aids. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who cope with some kind of dementia. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to start hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by reaching out to us for a consultation.

References

https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/blogs/protecting-your-hearing-means-protecting-your-mental-health

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.