We all know that the brain is the centre of operations for our entire body, but it can be affected by both physical and intangible ailments, such as hearing loss. While hearing loss affects our ability to hear, it can also lead to changes in the brain.
Anyone can experience hearing loss, no matter their age or race. Because hearing loss affects so many aspects of our lives, there are many studies to explore how it changes the brain. The results are interesting and show how much the brain can adjust to make up for lost senses. Neuroplasticity refers to the rewiring of the brain to handle new functions and situations. In people with hearing loss, the brain is rewired in several ways, right down to its higher functions.
Cross-modal cortical reorganisation
Despite the long name, this is actually not a complicated process. When hearing loss occurs, the brain must overcompensate for this lost sense in some way. By placing additional emphasis on other senses like touch and vision, this process leads to fatigue and negatively affects concentration.
While this can help people that struggle to hear cope to some degree, it can have harmful effects to brain function. When a person experiences hearing loss, the area of the brain that processes sound begins to deteriorate. This leads to problems understanding speech and language. Because the brain must overcompensate for these weakening brain functions, higher-level thinking is sacrificed for speech understanding. This can lead to a host of other problems, including the possible acceleration of dementia.
How hearing aids can help
Hearing loss is a gradual process in most cases. This makes it difficult to identify, as the person might not even realise that they cannot hear certain sounds anymore. In fact, the brain can hold memories of sounds for several years and after this, they begin to forget the sounds entirely.
Hearing aids enable people to hear properly, stimulating the hearing centres in their brains. The brain’s higher functions can continue their intended purpose and do not have to overcompensate for failing senses.
Seeking treatment earlier
When hearing loss is caught early, it can prevent brain reorganisation. Because the hearing loss is corrected early, there is no need for the brain to rewire itself to strengthen other senses. The hearing aid wearer can benefit from the stimulation of sound, while still maintaining a healthy brain.
Despite the importance of early intervention, many people suffering from hearing loss do not seek treatment. Some do not even acknowledge they’re suffering from hearing loss, while others avoid confronting the problem. Much can happen to a person’s brain in seven years, and much of this deterioration is easily preventable.
It is vital that everyone, not just those with hearing loss, should take a hearing test regularly. Hearing loss affects more than just your life, it also alters your brain. If you think you might be losing your hearing, book a consultation with us at Strauss Audiology.
About Strauss Audiology
Strauss Audiology is a professional audiology business in the northern suburbs of Cape Town, offering expert, effective hearing advice that is tailored to clients’ unique hearing needs. We conduct hearing evaluations, hearing tests and vertigo assessments, and provide a range of solutions to improve and protect clients’ hearing. This includes providing hearing aids to Cape Town clients. With 13 years of experience, and with the qualifications and certifications to deliver leading hearing care, you can trust us to take care of your hearing needs.
Want your hearing tested? Need a solution for hearing loss?