Do you get sick of all the sensationalist headlines in the news about your health and your hearing?
I know I do.
It’s often hard to distinguish between ‘real’ research and the hyped-up claims of so-called experts.
But despite my healthy scepticism, I’ve learnt over the years that hearing loss can be the cause of many serious mental and physical health conditions.
The fact is, in many ways, hearing loss is not just a problem ‘with your ears’. It can affect your quality of life and your emotional well-being. It can even affect how well your brain works.
Hearing loss affects your self-esteem and confidence
Hearing is at the core of our ability to communicate – with our loved ones and with all the other people we come into contact with every day. If we can’t hear what people are saying, communication breaks down. Even using the phone is a challenge.
And it can feel embarrassing if we miss words and misinterpret the message.
The result is that people feel isolated. They avoid social situations, preferring to stay at home where they feel safe.
This may lead to feelings of depression and loneliness. They also avoid physical activity, which is an important part of staying healthy.
Dementia and hearing loss
Researchers at John Hopkins School of Medicine have found that people with mild symptoms of hearing loss may be twice as likely to develop dementia as those with healthy hearing.
People with severe hearing loss may be five times more likely to develop dementia.
These findings are sobering. But there’s good news. Hearing loss is only one risk-factor for dementia, and hearing loss prevention plus wearing hearing aids can help.
Good news for hearing aid wearers
In my 20+ years of audiology practice, I’ve seen how fitting the right hearing aids can give people their life back.
They once again feel comfortable going out into social settings without feeling self-conscious or inadequate.
Wearing hearing aids can also be good for your brain
A recent research study found that using hearing aids actually helps to improve brain function and working memory.
The study looked at first-time hearing aids wearers who had mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Over 6 months, the researchers used both cognitive (how you think) and behavioural (how you act) tests to test their working memory, attention and the processing speed of each individual. They also tested their hearing.
The leader of the research team, Professor Samira Anderson, Ph.D., saw improvements as time went on.
“In effect, hearing aids can actually help reverse several of the major problems with communication that are common as we get older,” explained Professor Anderson.
The researchers noted the importance of having the right fit. This encouraged people to wear their hearing aids more often, thus improving the benefits of better hearing.
So, while the ageing process does affect our hearing and our overall health, hearing aids can go some way to keeping our body and our mind in tip-top condition.
If you have any questions, please give us a call on 1300 970 558 to make an appointment.