While there are certainly many reasons why you should do what you can to maintain a high level of hearing health as you get older, it’s especially more so when it comes to curbing brain atrophy. What is brain atrophy? It’s the tendency for the brain to shrink in size over time. What can actually hasten this process is hearing loss or hearing damage. New evidence has come out that suggests our hearing is more intricately connected to other areas of our health – in particular, that of the brain. We present a recent study and go over ways you can conserve your hearing.
Hearing Loss and its Effect on the Brain
The study in question, performed by the Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging, concluded that there is a link between hearing loss and brain size. Researchers followed 126 participants over 20 years and gave them MRIs and complete physicals every year. While it is commonly known in the medical community that as a person ages, their brain starts to shrink, acting as the pre-cursor to ailments such as dementia and a lessening of mental capacity.
When the conditions of the patients’ brain were evaluated, an interesting link formed between hearing loss and brain shrinkage. Those without hearing loss experienced this shrinkage more slowly than those with hearing damage. This much faster rate of brain deterioration puts individuals suffering from hearing loss at a heightened risk for brain atrophy, leading to conditions like dementia and cognitive issues.
This happens because the brain has a tendency to compensate for any damaged areas through damage to the gray matter. The result is a domino effect of massive decreased brain sizes noted by those leading the study. They have therefore recommended that people, regardless of age, do more than just the basics to protect their hearing as they become senior citizens.
What Can You Do?
Guarding against hearing loss is as simple as checking in with your doctor at least once a year. This allows a method of keeping track of anything that changes in regards to your hearing. In addition, see a doctor immediately if you notice that there is a sudden change in your hearing capacity, which can lead to successful treatment of hearing impairment and in some cases reversal of these conditions. Already have hearing loss? Take this as an incentive to be on top of your hearing health even more. Having your hearing checked at regular intervals can make all the difference in your cognitive capacity throughout the aging process.