Attending community crafting classes is a great way to spend time with friends, learn new skills and keep your brain sharp. Another way to protect your brain’s health is to treat your hearing loss early. As one study reveals, untreated hearing loss is linked to cognitive impairment.
What the Study Shows
Rodolfo Sardone and his research team from the National Institute of Health and the University of Bari in Italy uncovered that a certain type of hearing loss is linked to mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
For the study, the researchers examined data from 1,604 participants with an average age of 75. These participants had had their hearing and memory tested as part of the Great Age Study.
Participants were evaluated for two types of age-related hearing loss: peripheral and central. Peripheral hearing loss refers to hearing loss related to structures of the ear, meaning the person is unable to detect certain sounds. Central hearing loss refers to hearing loss related to the brain’s ability to process sound, meaning the person can hear but not understand the incoming sounds. Around 26% of the participants had peripheral hearing loss, while 12% had central hearing loss.
The results of the study are broken down as follows:
- 33% of participants received a diagnosis of MCI.
- 60% of people with peripheral hearing loss or no hearing loss had MCI.
- 75% of those with central hearing loss had MCI.
- People with central hearing loss were 2x more likely to have MCI compared to those with normal hearing.
Why Is There a Connection?
According to the study authors, “These preliminary results suggest that central hearing loss may share the same progressive loss of functioning in brain cells that occurs in cognitive decline, rather than the sensory deprivation that happens with peripheral hearing loss.”
In other words, central hearing loss and MCI are linked through neurodegeneration, or loss/death of neurons. This occurs in both the auditory cortex, which is the part of the brain that processes auditory input, and the temporal cortex, which is responsible for memory.
Getting your hearing loss diagnosed and treated early is one of the best ways to prevent MCI and other forms of cognitive decline, including dementia. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Waco Hearing Center today.