Due to the body’s interconnected nature, damage to one system can drastically impact another. It has become clear that the brain becomes affected when other systems in the body are damaged or not working properly. Within the past year, a connection has been made between hearing loss and decreased cognitive function.
Over 48 million Americans experience some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss can impact nearly every aspect of a person’s life including physical, emotional and mental health. Hearing loss or even just difficulty hearing has recently been found to be the largest modifiable risk factor for developing dementia, according to this Lancet report. It exceeds the risks of smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and social isolation. The rationale behind this correlation is hearing loss can impair brain function because it is socially isolating, limiting brain stimulation. Social isolation is directly linked to negative health impacts including exacerbating dementia. Elderly members of our society who suffer from hearing loss and dementia can greatly improve their quality life with the assistance of hearing aids. Treating mild to moderate hearing loss with hearing aids can assist in diminishing the correlated symptoms of dementia.
Some of the best ways to prevent hearing loss include:
- Avoid constant exposure to loud noises: Prolonged exposure to noises such as motorcycles, power tools, concerts and music can damage your eardrums and hearing abilities over time. It is best to wear protective ear wear such as ear plugs or ear muffs to prevent against damage.
- Do not smoke: Research shows that smoking tobacco can make you more likely to lose your hearing. There are an innumerable number of reasons to stop smoking and preventing hearing loss is just another reason to add to the list.
- Get regular hearing appointments: Going to get doctor appointments to check your hearing can be the best step to preventing further damage. It is recommended to see a medical professional if you are experiencing one or more of the follow symptoms: have close relatives with hearing loss, have trouble hearing conversations, are around loud noises on a regular basis or often hear ringing in your ears.
By protecting your ears, you may be protecting the long-term health of your brain. Kuether Brain & Spine believes in a holistic approach to brain and spine care. While we do not offer services for hearing loss, we’re considering factors that could impact our community’s health.