Hearing loss – the subject can invoke a wide spectrum of reactions. From “selective hearing” jokes to a real burden on relationships, working in the Hearing Healthcare field exposes you to them all. But how serious is hearing loss and how important is the need to treat it? There is more and more research being done in this area, and the results are coming in. The results show a direct link between hearing health and brain health. It’s no secret the two are connected. For years, audiologists and hearing instrument specialists have been coaching hearing aid wearers that the brain needs to adapt to the new sounds (sounds you may not have heard in your hearing impaired state) that a hearing aid wearer will experience.
One of the studies, conducted by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging in 2011, revealed that participants who had moderate or severe hearing loss were more likely to develop cognitive issues including dementia. The study did not immediately determine whether treating the loss with hearing aids or cochlear implants would result in a different outcome, but a large majority of researchers believe it would. One reason being the findings of a 2013 Johns Hopkins study that links auditory deprivation (the absence or reduction of sound signals reaching the brain) to cognitive decline. And that’s not all, other effects of hearing loss can include depression, isolation, reduced social activity, and an increase in stress.
So listen up! While it’s not definitive that hearing aids can prevent dementia, it is definitive that they improve brain stimulation, improve communication, and assist in social situations. If you suspect that you or someone you care about has a hearing loss, it’s time to get it checked out. You may find out you’ve been missing more than you think.
This article was submitted by Ryan Oberholtzer, Hearing Instrument Specialist with Darrell M. Sipe Opticians and Hearing Aids.