If you fall and break your arm, ignoring the problem will only make it worse. It’s also draining on the rest of your body as it struggles to compensate for the injury. The same is true when you lose your hearing; avoiding treatment can ultimately make the loss more severe and affect other parts of your brain.
What Is Auditory Deprivation?
Your brain is accustomed to receiving a certain amount of sound information coming in, like voices at Renee’s Tucson, so that it can make sense of the world. This sound information passes through multiple neural networks in the brain in order to be encoded and integrated.
When the amount of incoming auditory signals decreases in the case of untreated hearing loss, it can cause those parts of the brain to begin to atrophy. This effect is known as auditory deprivation.
The Cycle of Auditory Deprivation
When you can’t hear well, it begins a vicious cycle. Your brain has to overwork itself in order to help you hear, which forces other neural networks not normally used for auditory processing to fill the role.
Then, when these parts of the brain are helping you hear, they abandon their original roles, making it harder for you to focus and causing you to miss information, leading to more damage in the brain.
In addition, untreated hearing loss has been linked to depression, anxiety and feelings of loneliness. Trouble communicating with others often causes people to withdraw socially, a well-known risk factor for the development of cognitive decline, including dementia.
In fact, several studies by Johns Hopkins have established a close link between hearing loss and dementia. Those with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop the condition, those with moderate hearing loss are three times as likely, and those with severe hearing loss are five times as likely.
Treating Auditory Deprivation
The gold standard for treating hearing loss and the effects of auditory deprivation is amplification using hearing aids. An audiologist can perform a hearing test and help you select a device that’s perfect for your unique hearing, lifestyle and budgetary needs.
For more information about the effects of auditory deprivation or to schedule an appointment with an expert audiologist, call Arizona Desert ENT Specialists today.