Hearing loss not only makes it more difficult to understand sound and speech, but it can also negatively impact your health in a variety of ways, including:
- Increased feelings of anger, anxiety and depression
- Problems with balance
- Increased risk of injury due to falls
Hearing loss has also been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Thankfully, treating hearing loss may prevent or delay the onset of symptoms.
The Link Between Cognitive Decline and Hearing Loss
Multiple studies have pointed to a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. A 2013 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that older adults with hearing loss had a 24% increased risk of cognitive impairment compared to those with normal hearing.
While the exact cause of this connection is unknown, there are several main theories, including:
- Cognitive overload
- Brain structure
- Social isolation
People with hearing loss have to work harder to comprehend speech and other sounds. This extra effort required from the brain means they have less energy to put towards remembering what was said which can cause the brain to work less efficiently.
It’s also possible the structure of your brain changes due to hearing loss. A lack of stimulation for the parts of the brain that receive and process sound may cause enhanced rates of atrophy in the brain.
Finally, hearing loss can cause you to isolate from others. It can be frustrating to struggle to socialize, and you might feel the urge to spend more time alone. Isolation can lead to less brain stimulation and has been associated with an accelerated rate of cognitive decline.
Be Proactive About Your Hearing Health
By treating your hearing loss with hearing aids, you may be able to prevent or delay the onset of cognitive decline. This is because hearing aids:
- Reduce your cognitive load by helping your brain process sound and speech
- Keep the parts of your brain that receive and process sound stimulated
- Give you confidence in your ability to socialize, reducing the urge to isolate from others
If you are frequently having to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves or if you struggle to hear your friends when out to dinner at The Factory Kitchen, these may be early signs of hearing loss. Make an appointment for a hearing test as soon as possible to protect your hearing and your cognitive health.
To learn more about cognitive decline and hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call The House Institute Hearing Aid Centers today.