Hearing Loss and Brain Health

hearingFor years, individuals viewed hearing loss as a minor inconvenience or didn’t think about it at all. We now know through advances in medical scientific research that this perception is far from the truth.

In study after study around the world, the evidence is clear: Untreated hearing loss can cause increased cognitive decline, the kind of decline that can lead to dementia. The editors of the world’s oldest and most respected medical journal, The Lancet, released their recommendations on the best thing you can do to help prevent dementia: Treat your hearing loss. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) supports treating tinnitus, an early-warning sign of hearing loss, using appropriately fit and measured hearing technology.

Along with tinnitus, early-warning signs of hearing loss include loss of speech clarity, issues understanding speech in background noise, sound sensitivity and short-term memory loss.

Medical professionals now believe that hearing loss causes dementia. However, untreated or undertreated hearing loss with self-fit or improperly fit hearing technology can cause an increase in brain processing overload, which can lead to social isolation because it’s simply too difficult to understand people talking in a group or with music playing. Brain processing overload can also lead to short-term memory loss because the brain is working so hard to process information, there is no energy left to store information in short-term memory.

hearingIf you feel your hearing is fine but have some ringing (buzzing, air hissing), as stated above, this is an early-warning sign of damage to the ear-to-brain processing connection.

The American Medical Association recommends for anyone over age 50 to get their hearing checked.

Advanced hearing evaluations go beyond just listening to beeps. Audiologists now have the capability to see early damage to the ear that helps identify the cause of tinnitus and difficulty with hearing clearly.

Call 360-697-3061 in Kitsap County or 360-379-5458 in Jefferson County for a comprehensive hearing and tinnitus evaluation. Your evaluation appointment includes a copy of my co-authored book “Hearing, Isolation and Dementia, What You Need to Know.”

About The Author

Dr. Megan Nightingale, Doctor of Audiology, has been serving the Kitsap and Jefferson county areas since 1990. An audiologist for over 30 years, she and her team excel in providing very personalized hearing and tinnitus solutions. Dr. Nightingale has been an officer in several state and national professional organizations working with hearing and tinnitus issues.