Hearing loss affects many aspects of your health and well-being. There are many physical, social and psychological side effects, especially when the condition goes untreated. People with impaired hearing in Charleston have a higher risk of social isolation, withdrawal and loneliness—factors associated with cerebral atrophy, commonly referred to as brain shrinkage.
How Hearing Loss Affects Brain Health
Cerebral atrophy occurs when neural connections in the brain degenerate. This is the result of dementia, which hastens neural decline. Rates of cerebral atrophy are an accurate indicator of future cognitive impairment for physicians in South Carolina and elsewhere.
Why does hearing loss occur?
Approximately one out of every five people in Charleston suffers from hearing loss to a certain degree. It is more common as we age; about one-third of individuals has hearing loss by the age of 65. At 75, that number is closer to half. Hearing loss is usually the result of damage to the hair cells in the cochlea, which occurs after a lifetime of noise exposure.
As these cells die off, the quality and quantity of neural connections is impacted, affecting key regions of the brain that are responsible for hearing, memory and cognition.
Does hearing loss increase the risk of dementia?
Studies show that untreated hearing loss increases the risk of dementia by 50 percent, which in turn makes cerebral atrophy common in many people who suffer from impaired hearing in Charleston.
Has hearing loss reserach shown a link to cerebral atrophy?
Much of the research into hearing loss and cognitive decline has been undertaken by Dr. Frank Lin of Johns-Hopkins Medical Center.
He and his colleagues have studied the topic extensively and found that hearing loss increases the risk of cognitive impairment by up to 500 percent. Their research has looked into whether people with hearing loss are more likely to suffer from advanced brain shrinkage; brain imaging techniques like MRIs have shown a correlation between accelerated cerebral atrophy and reductions in neural volume that affect important areas such as hearing, memory and speech-language.
Is Cerebral Atrophy Preventable?
Experts believe that one-third of all dementia cases can be prevented.
There is no cure for cerebral atrophy, but early detection and treatment of hearing loss can reduce your odds of developing dementia and/or lessen its severity. Your Charleston audiologist recommends undergoing a baseline hearing test sometime in your twenties; changes in hearing ability can then be detected and tracked during regular hearing screenings.
These should be scheduled every five to ten years before age 50 and every three years afterward.
If you have a family history of hearing loss or other risk factors, annual hearing evaluations are recommended.
Related Hearing Loss Posts:
- Age-Related Genes for Hearing Loss Discovered
- Can Essential Oils Help with Hearing Problems?
- Acoustic Neuroma: Benign Tumor that Affects Hearing
Our Charleston Area Audiologists Office Locations
2295 Henry Tecklenburg Dr
Charleston, SC 29414
North Mount Pleasant
3510 N Hwy 17, Suite 135
Mt Pleasant, SC 29466
537 Folly Road
Charleston, SC 29412