Research demonstrates that untreated hearing loss puts people at risk for accelerated deterioration in brain function. This occurs for several reasons.
Firstly, hearing is one of our primary senses, bringing vital information about our environment to our decision-maker, the brain. Therefore, when hearing reduces the validity and clarity of information, it will affect the way the brain assesses the environment and results in poorer, less accurate decision-making.
In addition, people with hearing loss, tend to find noisier environments more difficult to function in. As a result, we avoid these situations. However, these situations are ones in which we meet other people socially, and therefore, where we gain new information and relate. Avoidance is missed opportunity for learning and growth.
In some situations, auditory pathway may be deteriorating at the same time as other nerves in the central nervous system. Early diagnosis of hearing loss can therefore alert healthcarers to the problem, allowing access to the right kind of stimulation at an earlier point. This can help to maintain better brain activity.
Finally, the nerve pathways from the ear are directly connected to the auditory area, and then are secondarily connected to many other areas involving language and memory. You can imagine that any deterioration in the provision of sound information therefore results in lack of practice for pattern recognition, poorer identification of information, and poorer retention of information. All of these can lead to generalised poorer brain function.
If you have hearing loss, it is vital to have an assessment with an Audiologist who could help to identify whether it is time to intervene. Early intervention can actively stimulate your system, and pro-actively ensure that your brain function remains optimal.