Untreated hearing loss is linked to a variety of different health risks, including:
- Problems with balance
- Higher risk of injury from falls
- Higher levels of anxiety and depression
There is also solid evidence to suggest that hearing loss is associated with a greater risk of cognitive decline.
One 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.
Why Does Hearing Loss Increase Risk of Cognitive Decline?
The reason for the link between these two conditions is not entirely known. However, there are several theories.
- Cognitive overload. Hearing loss makes your brain work harder to try and understand sound and speech. Your brain becomes overburdened and cannot function as well.
- Brain structure. If the areas of the brain that process sounds don’t get enough stimulation because of hearing loss, the brain may experience increased rates of atrophy.
- Isolation. People with hearing loss often experience frustration and anxiety in social situations due to their struggles to hear conversations. This can cause them to withdraw and isolate from others. Isolation is known to accelerate cognitive decline and dementia.
What You Can Do
One of the best ways to stave off cognitive decline is to keep your brain active and engaged. You can do this in a number of ways, including:
- Keep an active social life with family and friends.
- Take up new hobbies.
- Pick up a new puzzle or sudoku book next time you’re at Bellevue Square.
Prioritize Hearing Health to Help Your Mind
If you think you might be experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment for a hearing test as soon as possible. Hearing tests are simple and pain-free examinations that give you quick results about the severity of your hearing loss.
In most cases, your audiologist will recommend hearing aids for your hearing loss. Not only can hearing aids improve your ability to understand sound, but they can also help prevent or delay cognitive decline as well. They do this by:
- Reducing your cognitive load and putting less strain on your brain.
- Improving your social interactions and your confidence in your ability to communicate. This makes you less likely to isolate and more likely to engage with those around you.
The sooner you get tested and start a treatment plan, the better the outcome will be for both your hearing and cognitive health.
If you have additional questions or wish to schedule an appointment with an expert audiologist, call Evergreen Speech & Hearing Inc today.