Hearing Loss: Not Your Ears, Your Brain

Hearing Loss

It is a large misnomer that your ears are what’s doing the hearing. It’s actually your brain that hears. The sounds your ears receive go through the various parts of the ear and are then sent to your brain through the auditory nerve. Then, in lightning speed the brain processes sounds and translates them into meaning. If you suffer from hearing loss, your brain tries to fill in the gaps of the sounds you aren’t hearing. This can be difficult and exhausting, making it harder for you to participate in what’s going on around you.

  • When you have a hearing loss, you will struggle to hear in challenging environments. This is due to the background noise overpowering speech, due to speech not being loud enough for the brain to receive the signal clearly. Therefore, your ability to understand speech and engage in conversations is reduced, making it hard to switch your focus from person to person. By using digital hearing instruments, you can increase amplification of speech, making it easier for the brain to comprehend in various environments.
  • Many patients of mine try to put off dealing with a hearing loss for as long as possible, the average wait is about 7 years. Most times this is due to cost and how a hearing aid will look and what others will think. Please know that hearing aids can be affordable, you get great technology these days and can still maintain your self-esteem. The hearing aids of today are discreet and work amazingly. Most practices can offer you 0% financing that allows you to treat your hearing loss and maintain your finances comfortably.

What you need to be most concerned for is your over-all health and why you should not wait any longer to deal with this issue. Various studies have shown that seniors that leave their hearing untreated or are under-treating their hearing loss, have an increased risk of cognitive issues. The risk of dementia has been stated to increase by 5 times.

Since it’s your brain doing all the heavy lifting, you are essentially disconnecting it due to the hearing loss. An un-treated hearing loss has been found to shrink the brain by 1 centimeter a year, which is quite significant and alarming. Therefore, dealing with a hearing loss and even the expense of hearing aids can be much easier than the long term affects and costs of a cognitive disease.

The other major concern for seniors is the increased risk of falling. A minor 25 dB hearing loss will increase your risk of falling by 3 times. If you have more hearing loss, it raises the risk by 1.4 fold for every 10 decibels in hearing loss. This is very distressing, since falls can be devastating for a senior and their life may never recover if the fall causes a major trauma.

The overall message I wish to convey is that hearing loss doesn’t just cause you to ask folks to repeat what they have said; it also creates frustration. It affects your over-all health and cannot be ignored. Facing your hearing loss head on will keep you connected to your family and loved ones, allow you to function better in work and social environments, and result in better emotional health and is a key factor in your cognitive health and balance. If you or a loved one struggle with hearing loss, schedule a hearing evaluation with a caring hearing professional who listens to your needs, offers affordable options that fit your budget and daily lifestyle, and that you feel comfortable working with and being around. Make today the first step in keeping you connected to the world and to better health!

Sources:

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_and_dementia_linked_in_study

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_three_fold_risk_of_falling

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