Untreated hearing loss comes with a number of side effects, none more serious than its effect on your brain. Research out of John Hopkins found that even mild hearing loss can increase your risk of cognitive decline.
Cognitive Decline & Hearing Loss
Dr. Frank Lin conducted a study of 639 adults over a 12-year period. He found that:
- Mild hearing loss doubled their risk of dementia
- Moderate hearing loss tripled their risk of dementia
- Severe hearing loss made them five times more likely to develop dementia
He explains, “Brain scans show us that hearing loss may contribute to a faster rate of atrophy in the brain.” In addition to the changes in the brain, untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation. Removing yourself from others and not engaging in conversations can also contribute to dementia.
In addition to dementia, untreated hearing loss can also lead to balance issues. As you walk, your ears are constantly picking up signals. Hearing loss forces your brain to work harder to pick up and process sounds. “This subconscious multitasking may interfere with some of the mental processing needed to walk safely,” says Lin.
Benefit of Hearing Aids
While a study on how well hearing aids reduce these risks is still in development, Lin notes, “What we do know is that there’s no downside to using hearing aids. They help most people who try them. And in those people, they can make all the difference in the world—allowing people to reengage with friends and family and to be more involved again.”
Hearing Aid Myths
There are 48 million people in the U.S. with hearing loss and only one in seven choose to use a hearing aid. Lin suggests this is because of these popular myths.
My Hearing Is Not Bad Enough for Hearing Aids
Most people wait 10 years before seeking help for their hearing loss. The best treatment outcomes are for those who are proactive and seek help early.
Hearing Aids Make Me Feel Old
While you may think wearing a hearing aid makes you seem old, it can help you connect with loves ones and keep your brain healthy so you can stay young at heart. Sitting alone and missing out on activities you once enjoyed is far worse.
Hearing Aids Are Ugly
The days of large, clunky devices are over. Modern hearing aids are created with design in mind. These sleek and elegant electronic devices come in a wide range of styles; some are so small they are practically invisible.
Now is the time to do something about your hearing loss. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Valley Audiology today.