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Is there a Correlation between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Health?

by Alexandra Kilpatrick

Hearing loss could indicate more than simply a quality-of-life issue. Evidence shows that untreated hearing loss, especially in older adults, could lead to other health issues, like cognitive decline, according to the Chicago Tribune.

One John Hopkins study revealed that cognitive decline was about 41 percent more likely in seniors with hearing loss. Therefore, elderly adults should not ignore hearing difficulties, especially since maintaining the health of the brain is generally a priority for the age bracket.

Hearing and the brain

“To hear well, the brain and ears work together,” the Tribune reported. “Sound is heard through the ears and then the brain translates the noise so you can understand what it is. This means you not only hear language, music and traffic, but you comprehend these are all different sounds with different meanings.

“With untreated hearing loss, the signals to your brain are weaker and therefore, you have to think much harder to understand the noises around you. When the brain is using more cognitive resources to understand sounds, other brain activities like memory and comprehension can suffer, often causing cognitive decline.”

Effects of untreated hearing loss

Aside from cognitive decline, untreated hearing loss can lead to a myriad of health conditions, including mental fatigue and stress, poor memory, concentration difficulty, social withdrawal and depression.

“Just like maintaining muscle mass or speaking a foreign language, hearing health should be approached with a ‘use it or lose it’ mentality,” the Tribune reported. “Audiologists agree that early intervention is key, because when the brain doesn’t hear certain noises for a long time, it can actually lose the ability to comprehend those sounds. For example, the longer the brain is deprived of hearing high-frequency sounds, the more difficult it will be to process those sounds, even if corrective measures are taken.”

Diagnosing hearing loss

“If you or a loved one may be experiencing hearing loss, visit http://www.Starkey.com for a free and simply online hearing test,” the Tribune recommended. “For a complete evaluation of your hearing, visit a licensed hearing care professional in your area.

“An estimated 26.7 million Americans ages 50 and older suffer from hearing loss, yet only one in seven uses a hearing aid, according to a John Hopkins study published in The Hearing Review. After a professional diagnosis, your audiologist can help you learn your options for hearing better, including modern discreet hearing aids.”

Invisible hearing aids

“Many of today’s hearing aids cannot be seen, meaning no one but you will know you’re wearing one,” the Tribune explained. “For example, invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) are about the size of a jelly bean and are custom fit to your ear canal. Another option is the mini receiver-in-canal (RIC) device, which resembles the shape of a traditional hearing aid but is half the size. The mini RIC hides behind a person’s ear, making it nearly invisible.

“Even though the size of today’s hearing aids has dramatically decreased, wearers enjoy high performance and power, including many smart features. For example, the Starkey Halo hearing aids are engineered to work with your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, so video chat, phone calls, music and more stream directly into your hearing aids without creating any background buzzing or whistling.”

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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