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How Hearing Loss Affects Your Brain

When your brain has to work harder to make sense of what you hear

Did you know that losing your hearing takes a toll on your brain?

Many studies have shown that hearing loss can lead to thinking and memory problems, making you more susceptible to dementia. At Soundwave Hearing Care, we encourage you to take steps to protect your hearing so that your brain stays sharp for many years to come. Here’s what you should know about the connection between hearing loss and brain function.

The impact of hearing loss on the brain

As your ability to hear declines, some parts of your brain are no longer stimulated the way that they should be, which causes the organ to atrophy over time. Furthermore, parts that are usually used for complex thinking start to be used for listening instead of doing their primary job. A study at Ohio State University found that young people with subtle hearing loss were using parts of their brain to decipher sounds and process language that shouldn’t be used for these tasks until after the age of 50.

When your brain has to work harder to make sense of what you hear, it negatively impacts your thinking and memory, which can eventually lead to dementia. Research shows that people with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia, and people with moderate to severe hearing loss are three to five times more likely.

How to keep your brain and ears in good shape

Given the harmful cognitive effects of hearing loss, it’s important to protect your hearing from a young age. Don’t listen to music too loudly through headphones and be sure to wear earplugs when attending live music events and in other loud environments.

It’s also important to keep your brain active. Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation, regular exercise, crossword puzzles and frequent social interaction help keep your brain healthy and reduce your risk of dementia. And now with smart technology, there are apps like Luminosity and HappyNeuron that provide daily brainteasers designed to exercise your cognitive abilities and combat memory loss.

Wearing your hearing aids also helps preserve your cognitive abilities by compensating for hearing loss and maintaining stimulation to the brain. Plus with Starkey’s new Livo AI hearing aid, you can get the Thrive Hearing App to keep track of your brain health. The sensors in the earpieces track your physical activity as well as your levels of social engagement and active listening and upload the data to the app. This way, you’ll be able to see how your brain benefits from using hearing aids.

Hearing solutions in and around Calgary

No matter your age, it’s important to have your hearing tested regularly. The audiologists at Soundwave Hearing Care will administer hearing tests at your convenience and recommend treatments in cases of hearing impairment. Contact us to make an appointment at one of our clinics in Calgary, Grande Prairie,Lethbridge or High River.

All the blogs are reviewed and edited by our clinic's lead audiologist, Dr. Anne Wooliams. Dr. Woolliams is an experienced audiologist specialized in pediatric audiology, auditory processing, and tinnitus/sound sensitivity therapy. She is dedicated to providing top-notch hearing care and helping her clients improve their language and communication abilities. Dr. Woolliams' expertise in literature and linguistics, combined with her passion for helping people improve their language and communication, make her an incredibly valuable asset in the field of audiology. Learn more about Dr. Woolliams.