One of the more serious side effects of untreated hearing loss is that it can impact brain function and put you at a greater risk for cognitive decline and dementia. Thankfully, using hearing aids can help reduce your risk and actually increase brain activity.
Hearing Loss Is Bad for The Brain
If you have hearing loss, you lose the ability to pick up on sounds you once could hear. The parts of the brain that process these sounds then stop receiving adequate stimulation. Because of this your brain essentially starts to “forget” these sounds, which makes it harder for you to understand them.
Isolation and Decreased Brain Stimulation
Unfortunately, speech is often one of the first things that becomes difficult to understand when you have hearing loss. This makes it harder to communicate with others and follow conversations with others. Because it causes such a barrier when it comes to socializing, many people with untreated hearing loss may begin to withdraw socially and isolate from others. Unfortunately, this isolation leads to even less stimulation, which can both worsen hearing loss and has been shown to accelerate cognitive decline.
Hearing Aids Help Cognition
While the risks to your brain are worrisome, multiple studies have shown that using hearing aids to treat hearing loss can help protect and possibly even improve cognitive function.
- A 2020 study examined the cognitive function and speech perception in 28 adults with age-related hearing loss. They were first tested while their hearing loss was untreated and then six months after being fitted with hearing aids. Participants showed improvement in both speech perception as well as cognitive function after being fitted with hearing aids.
- Another study evaluated older adults between the ages of 62-82 both before and after being fitted with hearing aids. They found that participants showed “statistically significant improvement in cognition 18 months after hearing aid use.”
If you have hearing loss, treatment with hearing aids is essential to staying connected and engaged in your life. They make it easier for your brain to process speech and other sounds and provide adequate stimulation as well. When you have hearing aids, you feel confident in your ability to communicate with others and do things like go out to dinner with friends or take a health and wellness class at the Castro Senior Center.
For more information or to schedule an appointment for an audiological examination, call the experts at San Francisco Audiology today.