Lately I’ve found myself talking to patients about how EXHAUSTING living with hearing loss can be. Patients don’t often realize how much they compensate with various strategies to ‘get by’ and make it through a day…
As an audiologist, I see firsthand the ways in which patients compensate behaviorally to adapt to untreated hearing loss: listening harder, focusing more intensely, relying on visual cues, “filling in the gaps,” and avoiding challenging listening environments altogether.
There is research that shows growing evidence that untreated hearing loss is not just linked to behavioral compensation but also neurophysiological compensation!! A recent study in 2021 found that untreated hearing loss (even MILD age related hearing loss) is associated with neural (brain) re-organization and cognitive deficits!
Most interestingly, the study discovered:
→A correlation between cross-modal reorganization (AKA visual processing regions of the brain are activated IN ADDITION to Auditory Processing regions of the brain), meaning your brain is working HARDER (not smarter) just to HEAR.
→Speech perception scores were poorer and associated with more extensive brain reorganization in individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss (again, working harder not smarter)…
👉👉So why wait on treating your hearing loss? Let’s work SMARTER, not harder!!👈👈
Glick, Hannah, and Anu Sharma. “The brain on hearing aids: Can treatment with hearing aids improve neurocognitive function in age-related hearing loss.” Hear Rev 28.1 (2021): 28-32.