How Treating Hearing Loss Supports Your Brain

How Treating Hearing Loss Supports Your Brain

Like A Song for Children

We all heard the song as children over and over even if many of us might struggle to recall the exact name or the specific sequence. Sing along here: The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone. The ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone. 

That’s as much as you need to recall the melody, right?

This famous children’s song’s central lesson about interconnectivity can be applied and expanded to illustrate how so many different systems work. For our purposes here, the melody might get clunky, but we could sing: your physical health connected to your emotional health. Your emotional health is connected to your psychological health. And on and on. 

The point being that your overall health is not just a matter of being physically fit. Of course meeting the basic standards of physical fitness is a core component of overall health. But so is your emotional health, your psychological health, and your cognitive health. An injury to any one of these elements of your overall health is an injury to all of them. And central to maintaining each of these is your hearing health. 

How Is It That Hearing Health Is The Core? 

About 14% of all Americans live with some detectable degree of hearing loss. This includes more than a third of everyone aged 65-74 and more than half of everyone aged 75 and above. Studies have proven time and again that those who suffer hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia. 

And the more severe the individual’s hearing loss, the more the risk of dementia increases: mild hearing loss doubles someone’s chances; moderate hearing loss makes someone three times as likely to get dementia; and severe hearing loss increases someone’s likelihood of dementia by 500%.  

How and why does this happen? Think back to our children’s song about the interconnectivity of the dimensions of overall health. Of these tens of millions of Americans that live with hearing loss, than than 20% of them do so with the help of a a meaningful treatment plan. 

There are a lot of reasons to explain this tragic statistic, but one of the primary reasons is that hearing loss comes on so gradually, most oftentimes people don’t even recognize that it’s happening to them. Hearing loss is permanent and irreversible. But it is perfectly simple to maintain your overall health if you intervene early and meaningfully. But given these facts, the most common experience of hearing loss is also the worst case scenario. 

The Most Common Example is The Worst Case Scenario

Before someone even consciously understands that they are experiencing hearing loss, they are feeling its effects. Conversations in public spaces with background noise become difficult to follow. This not only creates tension and confusion, it is fatiguing because your brain is quite literally expending more energy than ever before just to follow and decode meaning. These feelings inspire this person to withdraw socially, which likely leads to loneliness. Loneliness clearly leads easily to depression and depression becomes a cycle that intensifies its own powers with its own symptoms. 

And the likely outcome from this painful cycle is disorientation that causes cognitive decline. Cognitive decline might be a tidy phrase that seems to be one thing, but consider the consequences of just a few of its immediate impacts. The speed at which you process information and make decisions slows down. Memories both old and new fade or even disappear. The ability to concentrate diminishes. 

Use It or Lose It 

Such cognitive decline is the result of auditory deprivation. Our hearing is the wondrous result of sound waves vibrating the many minuscule hairs within our ears. These vibrations trigger the ear drum which sends these electrical impulses to the auditory nerve to decode. When hearing loss remains untreated, the parts of our brains that decipher auditory messages atrophy. The longer that treatment is deferred, the greater the impact of the atrophy sets in and the more difficult it becomes to counterbalance with treatment. This is why appropriate intervention at the earliest possible detection of hearing loss is so important. 

Our brains are incredibly adaptable. It is up to each of us to understand the profound consequences of this and take the initiative to maintain the many discrete elements that come together to create our overall health. 

Don’t overlook your hearing. Make an appointment with one of our specialists today.