It’s no secret that humans lose their capacity for hearing the older they get. However, a recent study has come out that shows conclusively the strong link between hearing loss and brain atrophy, which is essentially shrinkage of the brain. Protecting your hearing as you get older is a top way to guard against this type of shrinkage. While keeping up a healthy level of hearing has its benefits in other aspects of life, now it’s even more crucial to maintain it in relation to brain health. Because the health of your brain and your ability to hear are so closely interconnected, it’s time to start taking better care of your ears.
The Relation of Hearing and the Brain
Study leaders at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging underwent a comprehensive two-decade study that involved giving 126 people MRIs and physicals each year. While the medical community has always known that brain shrinkage occurs in people as they get older, this study linked the size of people’s brains as they relate to hearing impairments. Brain atrophy has been proven to be a main cause in dementia and other areas of diminished mental capacity.
Once researchers began gathering the data and tracking results, they realized that there was indeed a connection linking hearing loss and brain shrinkage. In fact, those who had hearing loss showed a brain size reduction that advanced much more rapidly than in those without such damage. Because of these findings, researchers concluded that those with hearing loss are at a bigger risk of brain atrophy than their non-hearing loss counterparts. Brain shrinkage, it’s known, is a catalyst for dementia and other serious cognitive disorders.
Why does this happen? The brain actually makes up for any losses when it suffers damage of some kind, which results in more gray matter trauma, leading to even more damage and eventually a decrease in brain size on a fairly large scale. Maintaining the highest level of hearing health possible is a critical point when aging — something seniors should not neglect.
Happy Hearing, Happy Health
To keep the specter of brain atrophy at bay, the best thing you can do is not let your hearing go by the wayside. Keep up with regular doctor visits, get your hearing tested, and address any problems as they come up to avoid hearing loss damage in the form of brain atrophy. Did you know that treatment can occur if hearing loss is caught early enough, thus leading to possible reversal of hearing damage?
Even if you’re young, it’s important to take care of your ears. Continue to get tested to guard against hearing loss damage. This allows your doctor to track any changes and evaluate them quickly. This is especially so if you notice sudden shifts in your ability to hear well. All is not lost for those who already have hearing loss. It’s still imperative for you to protect your hearing so that your particular condition doesn’t get worse and lead to further brain shrinkage. Your mental capacity will suffer in the long run if you don’t.