Can Brain Atrophy be Caused by Hearing Loss?

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

As we age we begin to have difficulty hearing clearly and we normally just accept it as a normal part of the aging process. 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 notice that we’re becoming forgetful.
Memory loss is also normally regarded as a natural part of aging as dementia and Alzheimer’s are much more common in the senior citizen population than in the general population at large. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And is it possible to protect your mental health and treat hearing loss at the same time?

Hearing loss and cognitive decline

Most individuals don’t associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the right places, you will discover a clear connection: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a significant risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
People who have hearing loss also frequently have mental health issues including anxiety and depression. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.

Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?

There is a connection between hearing loss and cognitive 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 identified two main scenarios that they think result in problems: your brain working extra hard to hear and social isolation.
Studies have revealed that depression and anxiety are often the result of loneliness. And people are not as likely to socialize with other people when they cope with hearing loss. Many individuals find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health problems can be the result of this path of isolation.

In addition, researchers have found that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears don’t hear as well as they should. The region of the brain that processes sounds, like 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 a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.

How to prevent cognitive decline with hearing aids

The weapon against mental health issues and mental decline is hearing aids. When people use hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, studies have shown that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people used their hearing aids, we might see less cases of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who need hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who deal with some kind of dementia. For many people and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to start hearing better – and remembering things without any issue? Get in touch with us today and schedule 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.