Treating hearing loss keeps brains active and healthy
RAPID CITY, S.D. — New research is being conducted every year to understand all the effects hearing loss has on a person. Even in the last five years our understanding of hearing loss and brain health has become much clearer. Doctors agree that hearing loss can lead to everything from depression to social isolation and even dementia. While there is still a lot of research to be done, one thing is clear – the connection between hearing health and brain health are tightly interwoven.
Hearing loss goes beyond simple decibel or frequency loss — your brain’s processing power is often the greatest concern. While your ears gather sound waves it is your brain that actually “hears” them, processing all the information into something you can recognize. If your hearing is impaired it begins to affect how your brain functions, and the longer it goes untreated the greater the chance of other problems developing.
“There are connections between hearing loss and dementia,” says Cassandra Garver, owner of Lifetime Hearing Solutions. “With hearing loss you’re sending your brain the wrong information and over time you forget those speech sounds, so even at an appropriate volume the understanding and clarity is still missing.”
Luckily it is possible to improve and regain some comprehension after a patient begins using hearing aids. While Garver says it’s not always guaranteed, she has seen patients’ comprehension tests improve from year to year with the right hearing aid use.
“If their score does go down, I have to ask how often they’re using their hearing aids – do they wear them every day? And whenever the test is showing a decline it’s a good indication that they aren’t using their hearing aids as often as they should.”
The most important priority is to catch hearing loss early and address it early before any neurological changes can happen. “Even if someone has 100% speech scores,” Garver says, “I still talk about that because it’s something that can change and when you lose that comprehension, it’s harder to get it back – if you don’t use it you lose it.“
It is important to be proactive with your hearing health, as most hearing aid users wait an average of 10 years before they seek treatment for their hearing loss – plenty of time to begin losing comprehension. Garver recommends beginning annual hearing exams by age 50, or sooner if you notice any changes in your hearing or have a family history of hearing loss. To schedule your own hearing test, contact Lifetime Hearing Solutions by calling 605-342-1619