Can Brain Atrophy be Caused by Hearing Loss?

Woman with long dark hair and black rimmed glasses experiencing cognitive decline.

Hearing loss is usually accepted as simply another part of getting older: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we need to ask people to speak up or repeat themselves when they talk. Perhaps the volume on our TV keeps getting louder. We might even discover that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also normally considered a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are a lot more prevalent in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But what if the two were in some way related? And is it possible to safeguard your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?

The connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss

Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t typically associated with hearing loss. Nevertheless, the link is very clear if you look in the right places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have revealed there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health problems including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who suffer from hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.

Why is cognitive decline impacted by hearing loss?

While there is no concrete finding or conclusive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some association and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They have pinpointed two main situations that they believe result in problems: your brain working harder to hear and social solitude.
Many studies show that isolation results in depression and anxiety. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to interact socially with others. Many people find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead to isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.

In addition, researchers have discovered that the brain frequently has to work overtime to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. Eventually, the part of the brain responsible for other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the region of the brain responsible for hearing. Mental decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain strains to keep up.

How to stop mental decline with hearing aids

The first line of defense against mental health issues and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more people would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually wear them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who suffer from some kind of dementia. If hearing aids can reduce that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will improve exponentially.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any issue? Contact us today and make an appointment for a consultation to learn whether hearing aids are right for you and start moving toward better mental health.

References

https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/blogs/protecting-your-hearing-means-protecting-your-mental-health

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.