Information on hearing loss and tinnitus.
Hearing and the Brain
Several studies have found a link between dementia and hearing loss. Your risk of developing dementia increases between 200% and 500% if you have a hearing loss. The leading theory about this connection is that hearing loss causes you to work harder to fill in the blanks of what your ears aren’t giving your brain, causing you to go into cognitive overload. Because of the cognitive overload, your brain has less energy to devote to processing and remembering.
Hearing loss can also lead to social isolation, another risk factor for cognitive difficulty.
The good news is that studies have also found that treating hearing loss is the number one preventative measure you can take to reduce your risk of dementia. One study has said it is more effective than any of the current medical treatments that are on the market. Treating hearing loss with hearing aids has shown to improve cognitive function and reduce the deprivation our brains experience as a result of hearing loss.
Signs of Hearing Loss
It can be difficult to recognize the signs of hearing loss because it often happens gradually, over a few years. Some common signs of hearing loss are:
Types of Hearing Loss
There are a few types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, mixed, and noise induced.
Conductive hearing loss means there is a problem with how the ear conducts sound through the outer and middle ear to the inner ear. This is usually due to a blockage from earwax impaction, ear infection, or fluid in the middle ear.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the result of damage to the hair cells inside the ear and is often the result of age, genetics, ototoxic medications, or head trauma. While this type of hearing loss is irreversible, it does respond well to hearing aids.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural.
Noise induced hearing loss is a type of sensorineural hearing loss resulting from loud noise exposure. This could be due to repeated exposure to loud sounds or from a one-time impact blast that damaged your hearing. Noise induced hearing loss also responds well to hearing aids.
Tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of hearing a noise when there is none present. Tinnitus is usually subjective, which means only the person who has it can hear it. Those with tinnitus say their symptoms are most noticeable at night or when they are trying to sleep. An estimated 50 million Americans experience some degree of tinnitus in their lifetime.
Tinnitus can range from mild to severe, constant or intermittent, soft or loud, or in one or both ears. The signs of tinnitus include hearing a buzzing, humming, ringing, high-pitched squealing, or whistling noise in the ears.
If you suspect you have tinnitus, we can perform a tinnitus evaluation and test your hearing. In addition, we offer some tinnitus treatments to help you manage your symptoms and experience relief. Whether it’s using a hearing aid with a sound therapy feature for tinnitus relief or something else, our tinnitus specialist can provide you with the best solution to stop the ringing in your ears.