Recent studies have found that there are more reasons than ever before to protect your hearing as you age. It turns out that your hearing is more closely tied to your health than previously thought. One study established a powerful link between hearing loss suffered by individuals and the size of their brain as they aged. This has specific links to atrophy as well as a number of ailments that come with a diminished brain capacity. Here we will explore these links in the context of a study and offer advice to protect your long term hearing.
Hearing’s Effect On The Brain
The initial study that found the correlation between hearing and brain atrophy was performed by Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging. Over a period of two decades they administered a physical and a MRI to 126 participants of various ages. They found that there was a relationship between the brain size and reported hearing loss in the participants. The researchers knew that there was an expected amount of shrinkage that occurs during aging, but the brain atrophy far outpaced that rate. They found that this shrinkage was occurring in much higher rates with people who had hearing loss.
The medical community has established the fact that a reduction in brain size is one of the main mechanisms when it comes to various cognitive disorders such as dementia. The study continued on and proved that there was, in fact, a correlation between hearing loss and shrinkage. The brains of the people with hearing loss were shrinking at a much faster rate and in individuals who were much younger than expected. As a result, these people experienced a higher incidence of dementia and other health problems.
The medical explanation for this problem is simple, yet irreversible. The brain senses when it is beginning to lose a certain aspect of functionality, such as hearing. As a result, it reroutes nutrients, blood, and oxygen in order to compensate for the losses. However, this essentially shrinks the other parts of the gray matter, causing brain atrophy. This rapid degeneration left the researchers to suggest that everyone should go to greater lengths in order to protect their hearing.
How To Save Your Hearing
One of the easiest ways to ensure that you can hear well into old age is to go to regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments. They can track your hearing and help to advise you on practical ways to reduce your exposure to damaging noises. For people who suffer from hearing loss already, it is still very important to see a doctor in the event that sudden decreases in hearing occur.