Research shows that untreated hearing loss is a widespread problem that can actually affect brain development. Find out where you can go for hearing tests!

Hearing Aids and Brain Health

A recent study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has found that untreated hearing loss can lead to faster rates of atrophy, or degeneration, in certain parts of the brain.

This atrophy in the brain has been associated with increased incidences of dementia in patients who were hearing-impaired but did not use hearing aids.

Similar research was done at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Scientists demonstrated that when hearing-impaired patients were given complex sentences to listen to, they actually demonstrated less brain activity in their MRI scans.

People that struggled with hearing also had less gray matter in the auditory cortex, the part of the brain associated with processing sound.

Getting Tested for Hearing Aids

People may avoid getting hearing aid prescriptions because they don’t know where to get tested.

Medical professionals such as Ear, Nose and Throat doctors, or Otolaryngologists, can diagnose and treat hearing-related illnesses. Wholesale stores also offer hearing tests at their hearing aid centers as well as colleges or universities that have Audiology programs. Communication Disorders Technology Inc., a company based in Bloomington, Illinois, now offers free initial screening tests over the phone.

Dr. Lisa Macari, an audiologist at the Hearing Wellness Centre featured at the Windsor Star, notes that it normally takes a person 7 years to get a hearing aid after he or she has gotten a hearing test.

This delay may be caused by the stigma associated with wearing hearing aids, which may also explain why only 1 in 5 hearing-impaired people in the U.K. and 1 in 4 in the US use hearing aids. Dr. Macari also recommends that people of all ages should get tested every 3 years.

Although senior citizens suffer the greatest difficulty in communication when they neglect to get hearing aids, hearing loss is a common occurrence that can affect people of all ages due to everyday noise levels from music, traffic and subway systems.

In fact, incidences of hearing loss in adolescents aged 12 to 19 has grown dramatically in the past few years, increasing from 14.9% of adolescents in the years 1988-1994 to 19.5% in the years 2005-2006.  Previous studies have also stressed the importance of early testing in infants and adolescents.

Scientists from Washington University have found adults with asymmetric hearing loss, or a difference in each ear’s capacity for hearing sounds, show different levels of improvement when given the appropriate hearing aids.

Individuals that had untreated hearing loss stemming from childhood demonstrated fewer improvements than individuals who were treated for their hearing loss relatively recently in their adulthood.

Getting an early start on hearing tests is not only beneficial for mental health but can also protect hearing later on in life. An easy way to test your hearing without going to a clinic or office is to take Audicus’ Online Hearing Test. Just plug in your headphones in a quiet room, take 10-20 minutes, and get an idea of your hearing fitness. Audicus can even customize hearing aids to your Online Hearing Test results, in case you want a solution right then and there.

by Aaron Rodriques