Hearing loss affects the person who has it, everyone who interacts with them, how they walk, and their balance. It can also increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
A research team from Johns Hopkins revealed that mild hearing loss posed twice the risk for dementia, and anyone with moderate hearing loss was three times more likely to develop this condition. Those with severe hearing loss are five times more likely to form symptoms of dementia.
Hearing and Your General Health
Participants from the study who had hearing loss underwent brain scans. The results indicated that hearing loss might lead to a higher chance of experiencing brain atrophy. Isolation is common in those with difficulty with hearing, which can lead to anxiety, dementia, and depression. If you can’t hear very well, it’s more likely that you’ll withdraw from others and won’t participate in conversations as often as you used to. The combination of these issues can cause dementia.
When you experience various environments, your ears pick up subtle signals which reinforce your balancing abilities. Not being able to hear these cues can cause imbalance and falls. Processing sound can also be problematic, as listening fatigue may occur. This subconscious form of multitasking could prevent your brain’s ability to safely walk.
What are the Causes and Symptoms of Hearing Loss?
Some causes of hearing loss include:
If you notice trouble with hearing soft or high-pitched sounds, this is the earliest sign that you have damaged stereocilia - fragile hair cells which transmit sound waves into electrical signals in the ear.
Sounds that are considered soft include conversations that happen over a phone call or when there’s background noise in a noisy area like a restaurant or public park. Examples of high-pitched sounds can include women’s and children’s voices. Tinnitus is another sign of hearing loss.
4 Hearing Health and Hearing Aid Myths
There are no shortcomings if you have hearing loss and wear hearing aids. Most people who use them have found the devices to be beneficial. The ability to listen and talk to others who are patient enough to engage with you can change someone’s life. Time and perseverance are crucial during this stage.
Any range of hearing loss can happen to any person at any age. Few people use hearing aids due to various factors from lack of affordability to denial of their hearing problem. There is still some stigma to wearing hearing aids that prevent those who need them from obtaining a pair.
Myth #1: My hearing loss isn’t serious
The average person with hearing loss waits nearly 10 years before seeking help for their hearing loss. They may begin to notice that having conversations with others is becoming progressively more difficult during this time. They may also start to isolate themselves to avoid this issue, which can increase the risks of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and lead to poor overall health. Nobody but you can advocate for your health, communicate what’s wrong, and let healthcare providers know what needs to be improved.
Myth #2: Hearing aids are only for the elderly
Hearing loss can happen to anyone from a newborn to a senior citizen. Birth defects, noise-induced hearing loss, viruses, etc. can cause loss of hearing abilities. Some patients treat their hearing loss with hearing aids. Most older generations want to hide their hearing loss/hearing aids for different reasons. They may see it as a sign of aging, or a stigma that used to be associated with wearing hearing aids. The healthiest way to manage hearing loss is to figure out the best way to communicate. This can include wearing hearing aids, using an assistive listening device (ALD), utilizing a voice-to-text/caption app, using sign language, or any other form of communication. Maintaining a connection with others lets you have a healthier and happier brain.
Myth #3: Hearing aids are not stylish
Nearly everyone wears something in their ears these days. This can range from hearing aids to AirPods ™. Nobody does a double-take of your ears or notices something is in your ears. If they do, your hearing aids may be mistaken for earbuds.
Hearing aids come in different sizes and styles from completely-in-canal (CIC) to behind-the-ear (BTE). A professional fitting by a hearing instrument specialist will guarantee no feedback noises and a comfortable experience while donning them.
Myth #4: Hearing aids are tricky to use
With patience and proper guidance, adjusting to hearing aids during a trial period can be a smooth transition. Your hearing aid provider will help you through this adjustment process by giving demonstrations, training, and guidance with your devices.
If you notice any hearing loss and need your hearing tested, contact us at Northumberland Hearing Center for assistance.