According to a 2020 study published in the Lancet, hearing loss may lead to cognitive impairment and increase the risk of getting dementia. The rationale behind this supposition is that people with hearing loss have microstructure differences in their frontal cortex, responsible for performing executive functions such as language processing and speech. In addition, they experience some changes in their brain’s temporal lobe, mainly where the auditory areas are located.
How Does Hearing Loss Affect the Brain?
During the study, the scientists studied the differences in the areas necessary for language, speech, hearing, and attention between persons with hearing loss and those without in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. While further research on the subject matter is still required, the scientists were able to make the following conclusions:
The scientists discovered that the link between hearing loss and dementia is a complex one. While there’s no doubt that hearing loss causes crucial changes in the human brain, especially in ways that are similar to dementia, there’s no conclusive proof that this similarity can cause hearing loss. What is known for sure is that hearing loss may expose dementia, and dementia on its own can lead to hearing loss where it initially did not exist.
Simply because there are changes to the brain’s medial temporal lobe structure because of hearing loss doesn’t mean dementia must ordinarily follow. While it is suspected, there’s insufficient data to support this suspicion.
How Hearing Aids Can Impact Brain Health
The scientists discovered that while the changes caused to the brain hearing loss may not yet be reversible, there’s evidence that using hearing aids can help affected persons slow down these types of changes.
How Can You Protect Your Brain and Hearing?
This study indeed shows that now more than ever, it’s essential to protect your hearing. To do this, you should avoid ototoxic medications, extended exposure to loud noise, and putting items that can cause injury or infection into your ears.
Hearing loss and how it affects the brain is such a dicey one because, despite the advancement of science, little is known about brain hearing, the kind of hearing that can be used to follow a conversation even when the sounds are not clear. In addition, there’s not enough resources or tools to measure whether brain hearing has been damaged in any way.
Despite the speculations of scientists, the connection between hearing loss and dementia is not clear. Nevertheless, to prevent the remote chances of being exposed to dementia, you should take care of your ear health.