Recent studies suggest yes, that as our brain naturally shrinks with age, those with hearing loss appear to experience brain shrinkage much more quickly than individuals without hearing loss.
The study, conducted by Johns Hopkins’ researchers, examined 126 participants over 10 years with yearly Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI’s) to track brain activity, physicals and hearing tests. Of these 126 participants, 75 had normal hearing, while the other 51 experienced some form of impaired hearing loss.
From analysing the test results over time, the researchers discovered that those with hearing loss had accelerated rates of cognitive decline compared to those with normal hearing. They also discovered that the same group lost more than an additional cubic centimetre of brain tissue each year, against the control group.
As mentioned by the primary scientist Frank Lin, “if you want to address hearing loss well, you want to do it sooner rather than later. If hearing loss is potentially contributing to these differences we’re seeing on MRI, you want to treat it before these brain structural changes take place.”
This then puts into perspective the immediacy in correcting hearing loss so as to protect against potential future cognitive problems.
What can I do to combat cognitive decline because of hearing loss?
Hearing loss is extremely common. With one in six Australians now being affected by hearing loss, it’s important to consider the long-term health effects of this, especially on our cognitive abilities.
To combat cognitive decline from hearing loss, we suggest the following:
Schedule a hearing test
A hearing test is the first step in understanding your sense of hearing and potential hearing loss.
At Bay Audio, we offer free hearing tests at our various locations, so book your appointment in today with one of our experienced audiologists. From here, we can determine whether or not you need a hearing aid and if so, what type of hearing aid is best suited to you.
Take care of your health
Make sure you visit the doctor at least once a year for a health check-up. Maintain a healthy diet not overladen with sugary and salty foods and aim to get around 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Stay physically active
Exercise not only keeps your body in shape, but it can improve your cognitive function. It’ll help you maintain your strength, give you more energy, prevent disease and illness and improve your mood.
Keep your mind active
To reduce cognitive decline, look to activities that challenge the brain. Try learning something new, reading a book, playing a game, volunteering; anything and everything that helps to keep your brain stimulated.