Hearing loss affects so many different parts of your life. It makes it harder to understand speech and focus on what others are saying, whether at the office or grabbing a latte with friends at Epoch Coffee. If left untreated, hearing loss may also affect your memory.
Research on Hearing Loss and Cognition
Several different studies have found a connection between untreated hearing loss, memory and cognition.
One study studied nearly 2000 older adults, following them for years to establish the relationship between hearing loss and changes in cognition. Researchers found that “hearing loss is independently associated with accelerated cognitive decline and cognitive impairment.”
Possible Ways Hearing Loss Affects Your Memory
While more research needs to be done to understand the mechanisms that contribute to memory and cognition issues in people with hearing loss, there are several ways that difficulty hearing may impact cognitive function.
- Harder to concentrate. With hearing loss, you need to concentrate harder to understand sounds. For example, if you’re having a conversation with a coworker, all your energy is going toward deciphering what they are saying. Unfortunately, this means the brain is less focused on remembering what was actually said.
- Increased isolation. Because socializing becomes more difficult, many with untreated hearing loss begin to isolate themselves from others. When you’re isolated, your brain is not exposed to enough stimulation, which may eventually impair memory function and cognitive performance.
- Anxiety and depression. Untreated hearing loss can be stressful and have a negative impact on your mental health. Many with hearing loss begin to experience increased levels of anxiety and depression. These conditions can affect the way your brain works and processes information, making things like recalling information more difficult.
When to See an Audiologist
If you find yourself having to concentrate harder to make out speech or other everyday sounds, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with an audiologist. They’ll examine your ears and perform a hearing test to see if you have any degree of hearing loss, as well as what type of hearing loss you may have.
Once your hearing loss is diagnosed, you and your audiologist can work together to determine what hearing aids or other treatment options will work best for you. Treating hearing loss can make it easier to concentrate and socialize and may benefit your memory as well.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact River ENT today.