Does Hearing Loss Lead to Brain Atrophy?

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

As we get older we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we normally just accept it as a normal part of aging. Maybe we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we begin to forget things?
Loss of memory is also commonly viewed as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, better yet, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?

The link between cognitive decline and hearing loss

Cognitive decline and dementia aren’t commonly connected to hearing loss. But if you look in the right places, you will see a clear connection: studies reveal that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at fairly low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health problems like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. Your ability to socialize is affected by cognitive decline, mental health problems, and hearing loss which is the common thread.

Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?

There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there is a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are looking at some persuasive clues. They have pinpointed two main situations that they believe result in issues: your brain working extra hard to hear and social separation.
Studies have demonstrated that anxiety and depression are often the result of isolation. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they have hearing loss. Many individuals find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can bring about mental health issues.

In addition, researchers have found that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. The region of the brain that processes sounds, such as voices in a conversation, needs more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. This overworks the brain and causes mental decline to set in much faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.

Using hearing aids to stop cognitive decline

Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. When patients use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more individuals would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the people who need 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 nearly 50 million people who deal with some kind of dementia. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can reduce that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any problems? Contact us today and make an appointment for a consultation to find out if 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.