Researchers are constantly looking for more information to explain the connection between hearing loss and dementia. A new study out of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine sheds more light on just how hearing loss affects the brain.
Hearing Loss Associated with More Brain Shrinkage
The study compared MRIs of people with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and hearing loss to those with AD and normal hearing. Researchers had expected to find changes to the temporal lobe since that is the brain’s auditory and language processing center.
However, they actually found a higher incidence of shrinkage in the brainstem and cerebellum in patients with both hearing loss and AD.
“This is a surprising finding but one that relates to newer studies that link Alzheimer’s Disease with dysfunction in auditory function which requires cerebellar activation,” said Susie Kwok, medical student and collaborator on the study.
Hopefully, these findings can offer insight into early detection and treatment options of dementia in those with hearing loss.
Hearing Problems May Quicken Cognitive Decline
When you have untreated hearing loss you miss out on certain sounds. The parts of your brain that process these sounds no longer get the same amount of stimulation they once did. It’s possible that a lack of stimulation can lead to shrinkage or atrophy, much like the Carle Illinois College of Medicine showed.
Another thing that happens when you have hearing loss is that your brain is forced to work harder to process sound and speech. When you have to spend much more mental energy than you used to trying to follow the conversation at La Fia Bistro you experience mental fatigue. Over time this can negatively impact brain function.
Lastly, people with hearing loss are more likely to be socially isolated. It’s easy to grow frustrated or anxious when you struggle to hear, and you may prefer to spend more time alone. The problem is that not engaging with others can further deprive your brain of stimulation and possibly accelerate cognitive problems.
Can Hearing Aids Prevent Cognitive Decline?
Hearing aids may be able to prevent or delay the onset of cognitive decline and dementia by ensuring your brain gets the stimulation it needs and isn’t overburdened. They can help you:
- Process sound and speech easier
- Keep your brain engaged and stimulated
- Renew your confidence in your ability to socialize with others, making it less likely for you to want to isolate.
If you have concerns about your hearing health, call Wilmington Audiology Services to speak with a specialist or schedule an appointment today.