Health Consequences Associated With Untreated Hearing Loss

February 23, 2015 Swedish Blogger

As research continues in the area of untreated hearing loss more and more findings show that it is not worth it to wait to do something about hearing deficits.  Current research is showing correlations between untreated hearing loss and dementia, depression, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as increased mortality. 

A study published in the Archives of Neurology on February 14, 2011 found that hearing loss was associated with dementia (all causes).  They noted that the greater the hearing loss the more at risk a person was for dementia.  Additionally, they noted that for individuals in their study over the age of sixty, more than one-third of the subjects with risk of dementia had associated hearing loss.  One reason that may support these findings would be the exhausting of cognitive reserves; in other words more brain power goes into straining to listen for comprehension of speech than other cognitive processes, like working memory.

Another study published in The Journal of Neuroscience on August 21, 2011 found that individuals with hearing loss demonstrated less brain activity when focusing on complex sentences than those that have normal hearing.  Additionally the study showed that these individuals demonstrated less grey matter in the auditory centers of the brain.  In other words, untreated hearing loss leads to greater accelerated brain atrophy.

Certainly this topic will continue to be explored by researchers, however it stands to reason that “if you don’t use it, you lose it” and wearing hearing devices will likely slow the damage by keeping the brain stimulated through easier communication and less adverse effects on the brain.  Effective hearing is no longer just about the ability to hear the television or friends and family: it’s about more health consequences when it goes untreated.

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