Your brain will physically and neurologically change as soon as you start losing your hearing. Our brains reshape and rewire themselves as we age. Your auditory cortex will start to repurpose itself without audio signals. Here’s how hearing loss affects your brain.
The Brain’s Shape And Wiring
Noise damage, illness, infections, ototoxic medications, head trauma. These comorbidities can damage the hearing receptors in your ears. The tissue of the auditory cortex begins to shrink with age, but the rate accelerates once your ears stop sending signals to your brain.
This atrophy begins cross-modal cortical reorganization as your brain rewires itself to compensate for the “unused” hearing center. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s level of flexibility to adapt to cognitive changes.
Those with hearing loss may notice they’ve been quite the lip-reader. That’s because hearing loss causes neuroplasticity to reshape the auditory cortex for visual interpretation. Your brain automatically responds by committing more energy to visual interpretation.
You Lose Cognitive Ability
The brain’s adaptability is both its blessing and curse. Hearing loss increases the brain’s cognitive load as it makes a valiant effort to understand speech and sound.
Lack of speech comprehension means other areas of the brain will begin to devote their energy to interpreting sound. Their higher functions get neglected, creating a cognitive disruption that can lead to memory loss and dementia.
Hearing loss also puts you at risk for dementia and depression because people often avoid social situations where they struggle to understand conversations. They may fear embarrassment by asking others to repeat themselves. Withdrawing from others leads to social isolation.
Take Preventative Measures
Hearing aids can lighten the cognitive load and reintroduce sound stimulation to the audio cortex. However, consistency is key, so wear your hearing aids regularly. Be patient because it will take time for your brain to relearn some sounds.
Don’t wait to visit an audiologist and avoid an untreated hearing loss that can cause permanent damage to your ears and brain.
Get your hearing screening at Audiology & Hearing Aid Solutions. You can count on our services to provide you the customized care and treatment options you need. Call 888.473.8702 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.