If your car gets a flat, fix it and you’ll be back on the road. If you don’t and leave it curbside for months or years, eventually the engine will start having problems too. You can think of your hearing in the same way. If you’ve got a problem with your ears that makes it hard for you to hear things clearly and you do nothing about it, eventually the engine that drives your ability to understand sounds, your brain, will start to suffer. Get your hearing loss treated and you’ll be back on the road to healthy hearing.
Let’s take a closer look at why hearing loss affects your brain. To really get to grips with it, we first need a quick rundown of how your hearing works.
From your ears to your brain
Your ears act as funnels that collect sounds. The sounds travel from the outer part of your ear, aptly called the outer ear, to the middle part (your middle ear), where they are turned into vibrations and finally arrive in the deepest part of your ear (the inner ear). Here the vibrations are converted into electrical signals that run along a nerve to reach your brain. That’s where sounds you hear are processed and interpreted to become something you understand, from the beep of a car horn and the bark of a dog, to the lyrics of a song or a conversation with a friend.
What happens to your brain when you have a hearing loss?
Hearing loss means certain sounds don’t make it to your brain as electrical messages for processing. The more severe your hearing loss, the fewer messages your brain gets and that’s when things start to get worse. Without these messages, the parts of your brain responsible for processing sound get out of practice. They become weaker and weaker.
You’ll start to feel the effects as your brain struggles to understand the warped and limited sounds that do make it through. It’s exhausting. Your brain needs more energy to do what is now hard work, but was once second nature. You may experience headaches and fatigue. Untreated hearing loss has even been linked to an increased risk of dementia, another condition that affects the brain.
When you do eventually get your hearing loss treated, your brain will struggle to understand the sounds it’s hearing. Like a muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it. It takes dedicated rehabilitation to get your brain back on track.
What can you do to keep your hearing and brain in good shape?
If you’re concerned that you may have a hearing loss, it’s vital to come see our Audiologist at Life Long Hearing. We’ll assess your hearing to find out what kind of hearing loss you have and how bad it is.
Dr. Hadassah Kupfer is a highly qualified and community-focused Audiologist, serving the Mill Basin community. Her extremely friendly and relationship-focused approach combines the expertise and resources of a high-end city practice with the comfort and warmth of a community physician. Both of Hadassah’s parents are doctors, along with many other relatives who also practice a range of medical professions.