Our ability to hear is a sophisticated process. You may be surprised to know that you actually hear with your brain. Auditory information is sent from our ears to our brains, which then interprets this information. The end result? Our ability to hear.
Increasingly, research is showing links between hearing loss, memory and cognitive decline. And one message is clear – looking after your hearing can help to protect your brain.
Many people with a diagnosis of hearing loss may be using hearing aids. These play a massive role in improving our hearing ability and quality of life. But can hearing aids help to improve brain function?
Hearing Loss and the Brain
A study carried out by John Hopkins documented that the risk of developing dementia increased with the severity of a hearing loss. They also showed how cognitive decline can be intensified by 30-40% due to untreated hearing loss.
Theories to explain this include; worsening social isolation due to hearing concerns. Over time this may cause a reduction in the brain’s ability to interpret speech and sound effectively. Also, an overload of effort required from the brain when attempting to process auditory information could result in less available energy for processing memory functions etc.
These factors could be compounded by resulting in the structure of the brain changing. That would impact the functions of those areas of the brain.
In short, John Hopkins and the Hearing Loss Association of America agree that leaving hearing loss untreated increases the chances of brain function suffering. Long term, that could start to impact memory and potentially lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Can Hearing Aids Help Improve Brain Function
It’s not all doom and gloom if you have a hearing loss. The research seems to show that the problem is leaving the hearing loss untreated for a long period of time. Studies looking at the impact of hearing aids on brain function are showing encouraging results.
So, it may be possible to improve cognitive function by treating your hearing loss with hearing aids. One study looked at subjects aged 50+ who had untreated bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Their processing speed, working memory and selective attention were tested at the start and end of the study. Results showed that after using hearing aids for 8 hours every day over a 6 month period, there were significant improvements in every test.
These findings highlight yet another compelling reason to get your hearing checked regularly. Especially given that approximately only 20% of those who could benefit from using a hearing aid actually use one! It’s concerning given that untreated hearing loss can impact all aspects of your wellbeing. From the first time symptoms are experienced, it can take a person up to 10 years to seek professional advice. But why delay any further, take the first step to protecting your brain function and general quality of life today. Call Regional Hearing and Balance Center on 208-497-3596 or click here to book a complimentary hearing assessment.