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Have you been ignoring your hearing loss? Nearly 40 million Americans of all ages struggle to hear, but many people live in denial or pretend they’re hearing clearly. You might think you can manage your hearing loss, or that your “good ear” will make up for what your “bad ear” can’t hear, but sadly your hearing loss will get worse, and the longer you wait before seeking treatment, the harder it will be to make positive changes in your life.
Hearing Loss and Relationships
If you have hearing loss, you may have started to notice the negative effects of hearing loss on your relationships. You used to enjoy spending time with family and friends, land every joke, and have a great time at concerts or family dinners. With hearing loss, you’re not able to process all the sounds coming to you from all directions, and you struggle to separate important speech sounds from distracting background noise. You strain to follow conversations, and you can’t relax and enjoy social events. Those with hearing loss often choose to stay home rather than face the embarrassment of asking people to repeat themselves, or chance mishearing a question and answering inappropriately. If you have hearing loss, you’ll risk social isolation, anxiety, and even depression.
Treating Hearing Loss Early
If you’ve started to notice signs that your hearing isn’t as sharp as it once was, plan to take a hearing test as soon as possible. Not only does hearing loss lead to many negative physical and emotional health outcomes, you’ll also be putting your brain in jeopardy. Hearing doesn’t just happen in your ears, it’s also in the brain, so treating hearing loss early is the best thing you can do for your brain health. If you live with untreated hearing loss, you’re putting a strain on your brain, as it works overtime trying to separate important sounds from background noise to help you make sense of all the noise in your environment. This listening fatigue will bleed into other areas of your life, and you won’t have energy for the things your love, or the brainpower to enjoy dinner with friends, or spending an afternoon with the grandkids in the park.
Hearing loss will also lead to cell death in the brain. When the auditory center of your brain isn’t receiving input from the ears, the cells normally dedicated to hearing those sounds don’t have any work to do, and they’ll begin to deteriorate or even die. When you do finally get hearing aids and your ears are able to send signals to the brain, you won’t have the brain cells needed to process all the sounds, and you’ll never get these sounds back. Treating hearing loss early will prevent this reordering in the brain, and keep your auditory system active and healthy.
Hearing Loss and Dementia
Not only does hearing loss put the brain in jeopardy, those with hearing loss also face a far greater risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Just like your body, your brain needs exercise to stay healthy. When you’re socially isolated, or experiencing brain fatigue, your brain doesn’t get the right kind of exercise, and you’ll be at greater risk of rapid cognitive decline. Your brain uses so much power just straining to hear that you’re unable to perform other tasks, and this cognitive load places a great strain on your ears. Those with hearing loss often experience a shrinkage in the brain, and this leads to an earlier onset of dementia.
A study from the Brandeis University looked at the cognitive load, and found that hearing loss, even mild hearing loss, has a greater effect on your brain than you might think. Not only will you be straining to hear, you’ll struggle to perform cognitive tasks, and those with hearing loss score poorly on cognitive tests. This cognitive decline increases your risk of suffering from a degenerative brain disease.
Are you ready to do the right thing for your ears and your brain? Visit us today at Dr. Hear for a comprehensive hearing test, and discover what a quality pair of hearing aids can do for you. Look after your hearing health early, and enjoy close relationships, an active lifestyle, and an improvement in quality of life.