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There are many great reasons to use hearing aids. They of course help you to hear more clearly, but studies have shown that treating hearing loss can also slow down cognitive decline, depression, and anxiety. There are many causes of hearing loss. It can be the result of family history, and it can occur from prolonged exposure to loud noises, as well as sudden bursts of loud noises such as explosions. When you experience hearing loss, areas of the brain that are typically devoted to senses such as touch and sight diminish as the brain reorganizes to compensate for hearing loss. The brain eventually adapts to this rewiring, but there can be serious and lasting cognitive effects. There are in fact scientific links between untreated hearing loss and mental decline.
A study that was published in JAMA Internal Medicine determined that people with hearing loss in fact experienced declines in thinking skills faster than among those without it. The study was conducted at Johns Hopkins, and took place over six years and included almost 2,000 volunteers who were over 70 years old. The researchers administered the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination, a test that assesses cognitive impairment, and they found that people with hearing loss scored quite low. The researchers initially estimated that people with normal hearing would take approximately 11 years to develop cognitive impairment. They found that older adults with hearing loss were estimated to develop cognitive impairment in just under eight years. There is not a definitive, causal link between hearing loss and cognitive impairment, but the researchers showed there is certainly a relationship between them.
The cognitive decline that can result from untreated hearing loss has severe impacts across all areas of people’s lives. Those who are experiencing untreated hearing loss may find themselves retreating from the people, places, and experiences that they love. This is in part because hearing loss can make it difficult to communicate to other people, to of course hear other people, and to differentiate between sounds in places where there are a lot of different noises. When people are unable to hear in the ways they want to, they can avoid social situations, their working relationships can suffer, and they can generally become isolated and uninterested or unwilling to try new things.
Treating hearing loss with hearing aids can be quite simple, and can have a huge impact on reconnecting people to their friends, families, coworkers, and activities they enjoyed. The first step is to visit a hearing health professional for a safe and non-invasive hearing test. They will be able to fit you with a hearing aid that suits your needs. There are several types of hearing aids. Smaller devices that fit in your ear canal are typically categorized as Invisible-in-Canal (IIC), Completely-in-Canal (CIC), or In-the-Ear (ITE). Other hearing aids are slightly larger and have small case that fits outside of your ear. A thin tube connects this casing to a soft ear plug that sits inside of your ear canal. These hearing aid devices are typically called Behind the Ear (BTE) and Receiver in the ear (RITE) or receiver in the canal (RIC) devices.
Finding the right hearing aid is only the first step. It can take quite awhile to adjust to hearing aids. Not only adjusting to how they fit, but to the new senses of sound that you can now hear. It is important to simply be patient with your adjustment process! The more accustomed you become to your hearing aid, the better equipped you will feel to participate in the activities and conversations that make you feel connected to the world around you.
Treating hearing loss will not “cure” cognitive decline, and it cannot repair the damage of hearing loss or of cognitive decline. It can go a long way, however, to slow the process of cognitive decline down, ensuring more time with the people you love and doing the activities you love. With the support of your friends, family, and health practitioners, you will develop the tools to establish communication habits that will not only make you feel connected to your surroundings, but will also stave off potential cognitive declines.
Visit Us at Lifestyle Hearing Solutions
Are you concerned about your hearing abilities? You don’t have to live untreated hearing loss. Contact us at Lifestyle Hearing Solutions today to schedule a consultation!