It’s well-documented that our brains shrink in size as we emerge into our senior years. However, it turns out that taking care of your hearing health can have a positive effect on other areas of your body – particularly your brain. There are many clear benefits to protecting your hearing but it’s even more crucial now, in light of a new study that links hearing loss with increased rate of brain atrophy, which is essentially shrinkage of the brain. Protecting your ears can prove to be beneficial in the long run as you face aging into your senior years. Combat the risk of dementia and other similar disorders by staying on top of your hearing health. Here we go into details about a new study and find out how you can further protect your hearing.

Hearing Loss can Lead to Cognitive Disorders

Due to a study that gave annual MRIs and physicals for a group of 126 people over two decades’ time, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging found a bond between hearing loss and brain size. More accurately, they found that a link exists between the rate of brain shrinkage with those who have hearing loss. Over 20 years, researchers noted that individuals suffering from hearing loss experienced a much quicker rate of brain atrophy than individuals without hearing loss. Brain shrinkage is a common feature of old age. That’s not a disputed fact. But taking care of your hearing health can help curb atrophy in the brain, which can guard against cognitive disorders like dementia as you age. Being in a higher risk group for brain atrophy means that hearing impaired individuals need to be even more proactive about their hearing health than ever before.

Why does brain atrophy occur? Researchers say that when damage occurs to part of the brain, it attempts to make up for the loss, leading to damage to the gray matter. This in turn can bring about massively decreased brain sizes, which is exactly what researchers in this study observed among those with hearing impairments.

Get Regular Hearing Tests

Johns Hopkins researchers advise those with and without hearing loss to get tested each year by their doctors. Early detection is key in successfully treating, and sometimes reversing, hearing impairments. Even kids, teens and young adults should be tested regularly to catch any problems early on. If you find a difference in your hearing capacity, head to the doctor immediately. Tracking hearing problems can be a big help over the long term. Having a record of these issues is critical. If you have hearing loss already, maintain your health each year and get evaluated frequently. You could make a big difference in your mental capacity as you get older, reducing your risk for cognitive issues like dementia.

 

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