While there are several reasons why you should do what you can to maintain a high level of hearing health as you age, you should be especially vigilant when it comes to curbing brain atrophy. What is brain atrophy? Well, it’s basically the tendency for the brain to shrink in size over time. Hearing loss or hearing damage can actually speed this process up. New evidence has come out that suggests our hearing is more intricately connected to other areas of our health – in particular, that of the brain. We present a recent study and go over ways you can conserve your hearing.
Study Over 20 Years
The study in question, performed by the Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging, concluded that there is a link between hearing loss and brain size. Researchers followed 126 participants over 20 years and gave them MRIs and complete physicals every year. While it is commonly known in the medical community that as a person ages, their brain starts to shrink, acting as the pre-cursor to ailments such as dementia and a lessening of mental capacity.
When the conditions of the patients’ brain were evaluated, an interesting link formed between hearing loss and brain shrinkage: those without hearing loss experienced this shrinkage more slowly than those with hearing damage. This much faster rate of brain deterioration puts individuals suffering from hearing loss at a heightened risk for brain atrophy. This in turn can bring on conditions like dementia and cognitive issues later.
This happens because the brain has a natural tendency to compensate for any damaged areas through damage to the gray matter. The result is a domino effect of massive decreased brain sizes noted by researchers over 20 years. Study leaders have therefore recommended that people do more than just the basics to protect their hearing as they become senior citizens. This starts at a very young age.
Keep Atrophy at Bay
To curb the looming possibility of brain atrophy, the best thing you can do is prevent your hearing from being damaged in the first place. Keep up with regular doctor visits, get your hearing tested, and address any problems as you encounter them to avoid hearing loss damage in the form of brain atrophy. This increases the chances of successful treatment if you catch it early enough, thus leading to possible reversal of hearing damage.
Even when you’re young, it’s imperative to take care of your ears, which involves getting tested for hearing loss through the years. You doctor is then better able to track any changes and evaluate them quickly. Undertake this especially if you notice sudden shifts in your ability to hear normal sounds around you. All is not lost for those who already have hearing loss. It’s still crucial for you to protect your hearing so that your particular condition doesn’t get worse and lead to further brain shrinkage. If not, your mental capacity may suffer later on.