How Treating Hearing Loss Supports Your Brain
When people think about hearing loss, they naturally think about how it affects your ears and hearing. But hearing loss also happens in your brain so when it remains untreated, it can take a toll on brain health. Untreated hearing loss impacts the brain in a variety of ways that can lead to cognitive decline. This highlights the importance of treating hearing loss and doing so early which can protect and support overall brain health.
How the Brain Responds to Hearing Loss
Various studies have explored how the brain responds to hearing loss. This includes a 2015 study which looked at what hearing loss does to the brain by studying EEG results. Researchers
administered and analyzed electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings of the brain activity of adults and children with different degrees of hearing loss. They found that there was:
less activity in the hearing portions of the brain
brain reorganization in areas that process visual patterns
These findings support how experts suggest the brain is impacted by hearing loss. The areas of the brain that are responsible for speech and language comprehension are used less because these areas are being deprived of sound. So these portions of the brain which normally process sound are reassigned to other tasks and end up shrinking or atrophying. This affects neural networks and connections (known as neuroplasticity) which weakens cognitive functions.
The longer hearing loss remains untreated, the more these areas are deprived of sound and are weakened. This underscores the importance of treating hearing loss as early as possible.
Link Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline
Brain atrophy, less stimulation, weakened neural networks etc. can contribute to cognitive decline. Extensive research examines the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, showing a significant correlation. This includes a major study published in 2019 which included over 10,000 participants who were studied over the course of 8 years. Researchers found that cognitive decline was:
30% higher among people with mild hearing loss
42% higher among people with moderate hearing loss
54% higher among people with severe hearing loss
This reveals that people with more severe hearing loss were more than twice as likely to also experience cognitive decline. These findings also show that the severity of hearing loss increases the risk of cognitive decline.
How Hearing Aids Improve Brain Health
The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to detect, amplify, and process sound. Hearing aids provide significant support which maximizes an individual’s hearing capacity. This offers countless life-changing benefits including: strengthening communication, improving relationships, enriching social life, enhancing work performance, and improving brain health.
Various studies have shown how hearing aids improve brain health. This includes a 2020 study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience. Conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, this study included 28 adults with untreated mild hearing loss. After six months of wearing hearing aids, researchers found: “a reversal in cross-modal re-organization of auditory cortex…coinciding with gains in speech perception and cognitive performance”. This means that negative changes in the brain were reversed or improved with hearing aid use. These improvements also enhanced cognitive functions. Experts suggest that hearing aids strengthen neural networks and connections by providing the brain with ample support. This can significantly reduce the risk of cognitive decline and developing related conditions like dementia.
Treat Hearing Loss with Clear Hearing
You can prioritize your hearing and brain health by calling us today! The first step in treating hearing loss is having your hearing assessed. Hearing tests involve a painless process that measures hearing capacity in both ears. This identifies any hearing loss as well as the degree of impairment that could be present in each ear. Once your hearing needs are established, our expert healthcare professionals are able to make treatment options that effectively meet those needs.
We offer comprehensive services and patient centered care that is invested in transforming hearing health. We understand acknowledging changes to hearing health can be a difficult process but we are here to provide support every step of the way. Call us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation - the life changing benefits of treating hearing loss awaits you!