Hearing loss affects more than 9 million Americans over the age of 65 and 10 million Americans ages 45 to 64, but only about 20% of people who actually need hearing aids wear them.
According to a recent study by Jamie Desjardins, PhD, an assistant professor in the speech-language pathology program at the University of Texas at El Paso, hearing aids improve brain function in people with a hearing loss.
Even mild forms of hearing loss can affect the brain, as it takes so much more effort and brainpower in order to understand a message. This happens as a result of using the majority of your resources to try to understand the message.
These individuals with a hearing loss eventually lose basic cognitive skills – working memory, the ability to pay attention to a speaker in a noisy environment, or the ability to process information quickly begins to decline.
The Long-term Effects
It is known that hearing loss if left untreated, can lead to emotional and social consequences, reduced job performance, and diminished quality of life.
Recently, research has shown that untreated hearing loss also can interfere with cognitive abilities because so much mental effort is diverted toward understanding speech.
To explore the effects of hearing loss on brain function further, Desjardins studied a group of individuals in their 50s and 60s with a bilateral sensorineural hearing loss who had previously never used hearing aids.
Study participants took cognitive tests to measure their working memory, selective attention, and processing speed abilities prior to and after using hearing aids.
After two weeks of hearing aid use, tests revealed an increase in percent scores for recalling words in working memory and selective attention tests, and the processing speed at which participants selected the correct response was faster.
By the end of the study, participants had exhibited significant improvement in their cognitive function.
Hearing loss is a major problem in the US
“Most people will experience hearing loss in their lifetime,” said Desjardins. “Think about somebody who has hearing loss and is still working and they’re not wearing hearings aids. They are spending so much of their brainpower just trying to focus on listening.
“They may not be able to perform their job as well. Or if they can, they’re exhausted because they are working so much harder. They are more tired at the end of the day because it’s a lot more taxing. It affects their quality of life.”
Notice the Difference for Yourself
If you or a loved one is having trouble hearing, don’t delay in getting help from the best doctors in the area.
Our clinic is the only one in all of southern Utah staffed entirely with doctors of audiology. We provide the best care and personalize every patient’s treatment plan.
Please call us today at (435) 688-8991 to schedule an appointment.