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Hearing Loss

Healthy Hearing and Mental Health

  • October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. World Mental Health Day just passed too. It’s no coincidence that we mention mental health and hearing together. Research in the past few years shows a grave connection between hearing health and mental health. To what degree they’re connected and which one develops first is still under investigation but one thing is clear: healthy hearing and mental health may be linked in more ways than one.

    Otologist, epidemiologist and Johns Hopkins assistant professor, Frank Lin, studies the effects of hearing loss on the elderly. His research on the topic points to three possible reasons for how cognitive decline and hearing loss are related. Put simply, Lin’s and others’ research shows that when you live with untreated hearing loss, you are likely to experience:

    1. Cognitive overload due to your brain trying to work around/process the lack of hearing/understanding.
    2. Brain atrophy due to your decreased stimulation of the auditory nerve.
    3. Social isolation due to frustration, embarrassment, stress of not hearing and communicating well.

    Lin and colleagues have found that those living with untreated hearing loss were more likely than those with normal hearing:

    • To develop dementia.
    • To experience more episodes of deep stress, depression and moodiness.
    • To experience increased cognitive decline (the cognitive abilities of those living with untreated hearing declined 30-40% faster than those with healthy hearing).

    Clearly, Lin’s research should be enough to get anyone to the audiologist’s office for a hearing evaluation. For while his and other studies reveal that living with untreated hearing loss can contribute to mental health and cognitive decline, the upside is that treating hearing loss can improve quality of life and reverse many of the issues, listed above, that are associated with hearing loss.

    To maintain optimal mental health and hearing health, have your hearing evaluated and treated, if deemed necessary.  Get in touch with us to schedule your hearing evaluation. We help our patients to live fuller and healthier lives by improving their hearing.