Hearing Loss and Cognition

Hearing Loss and Cognition

Have you noticed any change in your hearing health, or in your energy levels and cognitive abilities? Not only does hearing loss rob you of your ability to follow conversations, and clearly hear all the sounds around you, hearing loss is closely linked to cognition. Hearing loss takes a toll on your brain health, and living with untreated hearing loss can lead to a rapid deterioration of your cognitive abilities.

Living with Untreated Hearing Loss

If you have untreated hearing loss, you struggle to follow conversations, can’t hear well in places with a lot of background noise, and may suffer from anxiety, social isolation, and depression. Along with these symptoms of hearing loss, your brain is also affected. Straining to hear places a huge cognitive load on your brain, and you’ll experience listening fatigue, mental fatigue, and physical fatigue. You’ll struggle with poor memory recall, and have trouble focusing on tasks. Not only that, but this increased strain on your brain increases your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Hearing and the Brain

Hearing starts in the ears but ends in the brain. In normal hearing, the cells in your ear detect the sound waves around you, convert these sound waves into electrical signals, and send these signals up to the brain, where the brain translates the signals into your experience of sound. When you have hearing loss and your ears aren’t able to detect all the sound waves around you, your brain goes into overdrive, trying to make sense of the incomplete signals of the sounds in your environment. This increased cognitive load takes a toll on your brain. As more and more of your brain power goes towards deciphering sounds, other tasks such as memory or concentration will suffer. A study from Johns Hopkins discovered that seniors living with untreated hearing loss faced a 41% greater chance of cognitive decline than seniors with clear hearing.

Forgetting Sounds

If you continue to live with hearing loss for several years, your brain health suffers, and you start to lose more of the sounds around you. Certain parts of the auditory cortex in your brain aren’t receiving signals from the ears due to damage to the cells in the ear. As the cognitive load increases, these cells will forget how to hear those sounds, and the unused cells will deteriorate, or be recommissioned for some other task. Have you been struggling to hear high pitched sounds for several years? The longer you delay treating hearing loss, the more sounds your brain will forget. Even after being fitted with hearing aids, these areas of the brain may never process sounds again.

Treating Hearing Loss

If you’re worried about your cognition and brain health, treating your hearing loss as soon as possible is the best thing you can do to combat these changes in your health. Early treatment with hearing aids will reduce listening fatigue and help you hear the sounds around you. You’ll reduce your cognitive load so your brain will be able to perform all its other tasks like memory, multitasking, focus, and increased attention. Hearing aids will give you back your energy, and you’ll protect the cells in your brain, giving the auditory center of your brain all the information it needs to hear the sounds in the environment. You’ll enjoy meeting friends after work, won’t feel so tired, and will be able to focus on tasks with ease. You’ll have a more active social life, and prevent feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.

Audiology Concierge Network

Have you noticed any changes in your hearing health or your cognitive abilities? If you get home from a day at work and feel completely exhausted, do the right thing or your cognitive health, and look after your ears. Call us at Audiology Concierge Network to schedule a comprehensive hearing test, and find out exactly which sounds you’re missing. Early treatment is the best way to maintain your hearing health and do the right thing for your brain. With a pair of hearing aids, you’ll reduce your listening fatigue, easily follow conversations in places with a lot of distracting noise, and have the energy to maintain a healthy social life. You’ll improve your brain health, and protect your cognitive abilities for years to come.