It’s no doubt that hearing loss can take a significant toll on a person’s emotional and physical health, but what many don’t know is there are many long term effects that could result from untreated hearing loss. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, one of these long term effects includes cognitive problems and even dementia. With an issue like hearing loss being as prevalent as it is (more than 48 million Americans), a stronger focus has been made on educating the public on hearing health and hearing loss prevention.
Some researchers suggest that the brain is like a muscle and must be used and trained to keep working well. With less audiological input to the brain, the brain’s activity is reduced, leading to cognitive decline.
Another theory suggests that hearing loss leads to an individual missing out on conversations around them, resulting in a feeling of being disconnected. This feeling of isolation leads to a lack of brain stimulation, ultimately increasing an individual’s risk of dementia. Social engagement is one of the activities used to promote brain health.
Because of the link between hearing loss and dementia, it’s important to practice good hearing health by utilizing regular hearing protection when exposed to loud noises. It’s also important to have an annual hearing screening completed by an audiologist to ensure your hearing is functioning correctly. If hearing loss is detected, the audiologist can provide tools and advice on how to properly treat the hearing loss. The sooner the hearing loss is detected, the easier it is to treat!