Hearing loss treatment, cochlear implant improves speech perception and cognitive function in elderly

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Hearing Health | Saturday, June 04, 2016 - 08:30 AM

Hearing loss treatment, cochlear implantHearing loss, as of yet, cannot be reversed so it’s important to take the necessary steps to maintain proper hearing. And don’t think it’s too late – regardless of your age, you can still take appropriate measures to protect your hearing and ensure you don’t develop any of these other complications.

Effects of hearing loss on mental health

Hearing loss greatly impacts brain health in a variety of ways. For starters, as one study found, hearing loss may reduce cognitive function. Researchers from John Hopkins University tested the cognitive function of 235 older men and women over the span of 20 years. Their results found that those who experienced hearing loss also experienced higher rates of cognitive decline, including a reduction in memory and mental abilities.

Additional research, published in JAMA Otolaryngol Head and Neck Surgery, found that among elderly patients who were deaf, the use of cochlear implants – a hearing device implanted in the ear – improved cognitive function. Researchers also found an improvement of memory and mental flexibility after a one-year follow-up with participants who used the implant.

Both studies reveal the importance of hearing as it affects cognitive ability, but hearing loss can also affect individual psychologically as well.

According to the Better Hearing Institute, untreated hearing loss can lead to the following psychological and mood issues:

  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Tension
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Stress
  • Reduced alertness.

Your mental health and cognitive function can be impaired by hearing loss. The psychological effects of hearing loss can worsen your health. For example, stress and depression can weaken the immune system, cause pain, and impact your heart.

Although hearing loss is often associated with aging, it can happen to anyone at any time. The goal then is to prevent it as much as possible.

Benefits of using cochlear implant

A cochlear implant is an electrical mechanical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sound so a person can hear, cochlear implants bypass the damaged cells to that the sound signals can be carried to the brain.

Benefits of cochlear implants include:

  • Hearing better
  • Understanding sentences up to 80 percent greater
  • Focusing better in noisy environments
  • Making conversations easier, especially in crowded environments
  • Reconnecting with sounds that were previously lost
  • Feeling safer
  • Talking and hearing on the phone
  • Enjoying music

Tips to prevent hearing loss

Here are a few tips to prevent or slow down hearing los:

  • Wear protective ear gear, especially in the presence of loud noises
  • Keep sounds from devices – TV, music player, etc. – to a minimum, especially if using headphones
  • Get your hearing checked regularly
  • Avoid injuries to the head
  • Don’t stick objects or cotton swabs into your ear
  • Avoid long hours in loud noise environments
  • Ensure you are cleaning your ears effectively.

By following these tips, you can work to hold on to your hearing and cognitive function for many more years to come.


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Related Reading:

Truth about hearing loss you didn’t know

Hearing aids boost seniors’ minds

Sources:

http://www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/in/home/understand/hearing-and-hl/hl-treatments/cochlear-implant
http://media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/cochlear-implantation-associated-with-improved-speech-perception-cognitive-function-in-older-adults/Effects of hearing loss on health

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