Time to Take the Bull By the Horns

With October being National Audiology Awareness Month — coming after restricted access to hearing healthcare professionals due to COVID-19 restrictions — now’s a great time to go over some reasons why you should give your hearing issues some attention.

The fact is, ignoring them will not only lead to poorer hearing, but also make a host of other health issues more likely.

One of the most profound reasons, especially for those in middle age, is that poor hearing can contribute to brain atrophy. Hearing isn’t just about your ears. The auditory cortex, part of the temporal lobe, is a portion of the brain that also handles language. If there are issues with the functioning of your ears, this will have a snowball effect and lead to the performance of the auditory cortex degrading — or even switching over to other tasks (which makes hearing issues harder to deal with later).

Poor hearing can also cause issues with brain function in other ways. Alzheimer’s and dementia have both been found to be more prevalent in people with untreated hearing issues. One reason is the brain atrophy referenced above, while the loneliness that often accompanies poor hearing — which makes conversation difficult — is also a significant risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s.

This ties in with emotional health. Those with poor hearing have starkly higher rates of depression. Again, the challenge of social activities — when it’s so difficult to interact with people — is the primary driver of this phenomenon.

Poor hearing can even just make you more tired. This is known as listener fatigue and is tied to the brain pouring so much energy into interpreting the poor-quality sound it’s trying to process.

If you’ve gotten to the other side of COVID quarantine with some questions about your hearing, now’s the time to take action and “see” what’s going on.