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Mounting Evidence Suggests Connections between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Impairment – Even in Young Adults

Over the past several years, studies have indicated a connection between hearing loss and cognitive impairment. While this connection may not be intuitive, mounting evidence from studies across different age groups shows that such a connection does exist.
The majority of past studies focused on older adults, and the findings indicated connections between increased prevalence of dementia and hearing loss, as well as increased difficulty in verbal comprehension and working memory. Determining the causal relationship of such findings is difficult; for example, hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia through reduced social interaction and increased stress and depression. However, it has also been theorized that hearing loss contributes to dementia and other cognitive impairment by draining neural resources through increased listening effort; these neural resources are then unable to be allocated to other cognitive processes.
Although several studies, including those referenced above, focused on hearing loss and cognitive impairment in older adults, one recent study instead examined this connection in younger adults. In this study, researchers monitored the brain activity of 35 young healthy adults between the ages of 18-41 in response to sentences of varying syntactic complexity. As expected, the classic language network of the brain, located in the left frontotemporal cortices, displayed greater activity when the test subjects were given sentences of greater complexity.
However, not all of the findings were as expected; when the test subjects were given complex sentences, increased brain activity also emerged in the right anterior prefrontal cortex, showing a negative correlation with hearing acuity. This type of right frontal activity, indicating brain plasticity, has been previously documented in older adults during language tasks, but it had not been documented in such young, healthy adults. After controlling for age, the right frontal cortex activity still showed a strong association with hearing acuity.
While further longitudinal studies are needed to investigate the connection between hearing loss and cognitive ability in younger adults, these findings are still a strong indicator that hearing loss can contribute to cognitive impairment in younger adults. It is hypothesized that the increased brain activity, signaling brain elasticity, may imply depletion of neural resources in the future, ultimately leading to a greater risk of dementia.
So what can be done, especially for young adults, to avoid hearing loss-related cognitive impairment? Young adults are increasingly exposed to noise at dangerous levels on a regular basis; in fact, according to surveys, more than 90 percent of college students use personal music devices, and almost half of these students listen to their music at high volumes that exceed safety standards for occupational noise exposure. This increases the risk of early hearing loss in adolescents and young adults.
To reduce the risk of hearing loss and associated cognitive impairment, it is essential for young adults to avoid exposure to such high volumes of music and other noise. By protecting their hearing, young adults can reduce the risk of dementia, other forms of cognitive impairment, and various negative effects on their wellbeing connected to hearing loss.
For more information on how you can protect your hearing and how to treat hearing loss, please contact us today.

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How do you know which hearing aids to choose?

If you have hearing loss, your hearing professional may have recommended that you wear hearing aids. Your journey with hearing aids starts with you choosing your devices. But with so many hearing aids out there, especially with over-the-counter devices now available, how do you know which type of hearing aids to pick? Here are a few things to consider as you select your hearing aids.
Hearing Loss
Many people have hearing loss, but no two people have the exact same hearing loss. Your hearing is unique and your hearing aids should be chosen with your specific hearing loss in mind. Talk to your hearing aid professional about your hearing loss and the types of hearing aids they recommend for your individual hearing needs.
One tip to keep in mind: get hearing aids for both ears. Even if you only have hearing loss in one ear or hearing loss is more severe in one ear, you should wear hearing aids in both ears.
Size
The size of your hearing aid will play a role in how easy it is for other people to see your hearing aid. If it’s important to you that your hearing aid is nearly invisible, talk to your hearing professional about getting a smaller device.
The size of your hearing aid might depend on more than personal preference. Size can be determined by factors like the shape of your ear, your type of hearing loss, and how advanced you want your hearing aids to be.
Style
Years ago, most hearing aids came in just one style. However, today’s hearing aids come in a wide variety of styles. This includes different sizes, colors, finishes, features, and more. You can decide whether you’re comfortable with a “traditional” looking hearing aid or if you prefer a more modern style.
Technology
Again, modern hearing aids come with a wide range of available features. These include technology features like Bluetooth, phone connectivity (if you have a smartphone like an iPhone, Android, or Google phone), connectivity for your TV or computer, control features from a phone app, and more. Talk to your hearing aid professional about how tech-savvy you are and how technologically advanced you want your hearing aids to be. With such a wide range of options, you’re sure to find one that fits your technology needs.
Lifestyle
Do you work? Do you enjoy being active? Do you often participate in outdoor activities? Do you use a cell phone? Do you use a landline? Do you use a radio? All of these factors (and more) should be considered when choosing your hearing aids. Your hearing aid professional will be able to recommend hearing aids that best fit your lifestyle and your specific needs.
Cost
This might be the elephant in the room: cost. More advanced hearing aids are more expensive, while more basic ones are less expensive. Thankfully, there are effective solutions for any price range. Be open when talking to your hearing professional about the cost you are comfortable with. Many hearing practices can offer payment plans, so ask about that as well.
The bottom line is that choosing hearing aids should take into account several factors—and in the end, the selection is very personalized. The best way to get the best hearing aids for you is to work with a hearing aid professional who can consider all of your needs and desires to help you make the best choice. For more information and to set up your appointment with our hearing professional, we welcome you to contact our office today.

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Does hearing loss have a connection to diabetes?

The human body is amazing. One of the intriguing aspects of how the body works is that everything is connected—and one part affects all of the other parts. Researchers are still learning new ways that various body systems are connected. One connection you may not know about is that hearing loss and diabetes are linked. Here’s how.
How diabetes can contribute to hearing loss
Researchers believe that high blood glucose levels from untreated or poorly managed diabetes can weaken the ear’s blood vessels, as well as the nerve cells (or “hair cells”) in the inner ear. The hair cells rely on good blood circulation, just like other parts of your body. Once the hair cells are damaged or die, your hearing is permanently affected.
Although most people are not aware of the connection between diabetes and hearing loss, studies make it clear that both conditions are common and often go hand-in-hand. One study by the National Institutes of Health revealed that people with diabetes are more than twice as likely to have mild to moderate high-frequency hearing loss than those without diabetes.
This finding was confirmed by researchers who conducted a meta-analysis of 13 studies involving more than 20,000 participants. They found that diabetics are more likely to have hearing loss than those without the disease, regardless of age.
How diabetes and balance are connected
Diabetes can affect your balance as well. This is because diabetes can damage small blood vessels in your inner ear and your vestibular system, which is the part of your ear that helps with balance. As a result, you may be at a greater risk for dizziness and falls.
How to protect your hearing
While you cannot stop the connection between diabetes and hearing loss, you can do your part to manage your diabetes and protect your hearing. Here are a few ways you can do so:

  • Control the ABCs of diabetes. These are three key steps to managing your diabetes that can help to lower your risk for heart attack and stroke. Well-controlled diabetes can also lower your risk for hearing loss.
  • Become educated about diabetes. Learning how to control your blood sugar, how to get healthy exercise, and how to eat right can all be helpful in managing your diabetes and preventing associated conditions like hearing loss.
  • Get your hearing tested annually. This is a good idea even if you do not have diabetes.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight makes it more difficult for your heart to effectively pump blood throughout your body and provide good circulation, including to your ears.
  • Get active. Even a moderate amount of daily exercise can help to improve circulation and blood flow. Speak with your doctor about what type of exercise is right for you.
  • Protect your ears from excessive noise. If you are in a loud environment like a concert, working with machinery, doing yardwork, or other places where noise may be excessive, wear protective headphones or earplugs. Turn down the volume of the television, car radio, and personal listening devices.

Taking these steps can help you control your diabetes and lower the risk of hearing loss. For more information about the connection between diabetes and hearing loss, we welcome you to contact our practice today.

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Everything You Need to Know about Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

Hearing aids have been approved for over-the-counter (OTC) use. Congress passed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 to make hearing aids more accessible for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. Several manufacturers already sell them online, and the devices are slated to hit the shelves once the law takes full effect in October 2022. These devices will be sold directly to consumers without an exam or a fitting by an audiologist. With this new option, you may be wondering whether OTC hearing aids are right for you. Here are a few things you need to know about OTC hearing aids.
Where can I get OTC hearing aids?
OTC hearing aids are already being sold online. They will soon be available in pharmacies, stores, and doctors’ offices. If you choose to purchase OTC hearing aids, be sure they come with a comprehensive return policy.
How are OTC hearing aids different?
Over-the-counter hearing aids are not exactly like hearing aids you receive from a hearing aid specialist. Here are a few differences:

  • Who fits them: Prescription hearing aids are fit by an audiologist or hearing specialist. OTC hearing aids are self-fit.
  • Diagnosis and testing: A hearing specialist conducts hearing tests and diagnoses using advanced equipment. For OTC hearing aids, you will conduct your own approximated self-test and diagnosis depending on the product purchased.
  • Degree of hearing loss: Prescription hearing aids can be used to treat any level of hearing loss, from mild to severe. OTC hearing aids are only for self-perceived mild to moderate hearing loss.
  • Design: Prescription hearing aids are available in a full range of designs, including discreet custom options. In contrast, OTC hearing aids are available in limited designs with a one-size-fits-most approach.
  • Intended user: People of any age and any medical status can use prescription hearing aids. OTC hearing aids are designed for adults (age 18+) with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Am I a candidate for OTC hearing aids?
You may be a candidate for OTC hearing aids if you have mild to moderate hearing loss. You may have mild hearing loss if you feel that you occasionally miss sounds or have difficulty hearing in loud, noisy environments. OTC hearing aids may be a good solution if the cost of prescription hearing aids is holding you back from treating your hearing loss.
Who is not a candidate for OTC hearing aids?
OTC hearing aids are not a good option for children or for those who have severe hearing loss. In addition, you should see a doctor (rather than purchase OTC hearing aids) if you experience sudden hearing loss, a sudden plunge in your hearing (even if it improves), a big difference in the hearing between one ear and the other, or tinnitus in only one ear. These may be signs of medical problems.
Will I be satisfied with OTC hearing aids?
A recent study found that users of “premium” prescription hearing aids showed the greatest satisfaction with their devices. One of the greatest factors study participants cited was comfort, specifically how the hearing aids processed background noise and how well they could hear speech in a group setting.
That being said, you don’t know whether you’ll be satisfied with OTC hearing aids until you try them. If you decide to try out OTC hearing aids, you may also want to see a hearing aid specialist and consider prescription hearing aids as well.
For more information about the pros and cons of OTC hearing aids, please contact our office today.

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Where is the Best Place to Get Hearing Aids?

You may have heard that hearing aids will soon be available over-the-counter at retailers like Walgreens and CVS. With hearing aids also available from a hearing care professional like an audiologist, at big box stores, and from online-only retailers, you have options when it comes to where you get your hearing aids. So, where is the best place to get hearing aids?
Hearing aids have changed a lot in the last 20 years, but the answer to this question has not. Despite the availability of new options for accessing hearing aids (which will enable more people who need hearing aids to get them—great news!), the best place to get hearing aids is from a hearing care professional. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Accurate solutions tailored to your needs.
    You are unique, and so is your hearing. You can think of it like your sense of taste; you don’t like all the same foods as everyone else. Your hearing loss is nuanced, unique, and complicated. For example, you may have hearing loss in one or both ears, and even if both ears are affected, the loss may not be the same in both. Other factors to consider when it comes to hearing loss include your hearing thresholds, which frequencies you struggle to hear, and more.
    Your hearing aid professional can make certain that your hearing aids are tailored to your personal hearing needs. In addition, your hearing professional can consider factors that would not come into play in an OTC environment, such as the types of listening environments you frequent, whether you are more active or relaxed, how tech savvy you are, whether you have dexterity issues, what you prefer when it comes to style and features, and much more.
    Your hearing aids should be unique to you. Choosing OTC or big-box hearing aid solutions does not give you the same personalized care as seeing a hearing aid professional. Hearing professionals can fit, program, and support your hearing aid in a way that is tailored to your specific needs. This is the best way to ensure reliable results and the benefits you need.
  2. Long-term care to support your investment.
    Let’s face it: hearing aids aren’t cheap. No matter where you purchase your hearing aids, they are a financial investment. Hearing aids are also an investment in better communication, your connection to other people, improved health and happiness, and better quality of life.
    The best way to make the most of your investment is to have your hearing aids fit, programmed, and supported long-term by a hearing aid professional. Your hearing professional will provide expert consultation, personalized fitting, and ongoing care. You deserve the best support when it comes to an investment this important.
  3. Expert services for high-tech devices.
    Today’s hearing aids are sophisticated devices. While a range of features and options are available, high-tech hearing aids can connect to your smartphone, computer, or TV, filter sounds in noisy environments, and much more. In addition, they are much smaller and lighter than they used to be!
    With such high-tech options available, you need an expert who knows how to make the most of every feature—and who can tell which features will work best for you. A hearing care professional has the knowledge and experience needed to help you achieve optimal benefits from your advanced hearing aids.

The answer is clear: the best place to get hearing aids is from a hearing aid professional. To learn more about hearing aids and their benefits, we welcome you to contact our hearing practice today.

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Recent Study Highlights the Importance of Early Intervention for Hearing Loss

When it comes to your health, early intervention is best. This seems apparent for health conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and more. It is obvious to most people that it is better to treat these conditions early rather than when they have become severe and have had a greater effect on your body and your overall health. However, many people do not give the same thought to their hearing health. Just like other health conditions, it is important to seek out early treatment for hearing loss.
Over the years, research has shown that untreated hearing loss is connected to numerous health problems. These conditions include depression, social isolation and loneliness, anxiety, falls, and cognitive decline. By seeking treatment for hearing loss—like hearing aids—you can lower your risk for these health conditions.
A recent study highlights the importance of early intervention for hearing loss. In the study, researchers at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center followed a group of 2,110 adults over a mean follow-up period of 9.1 years. The study evaluated the participants’ cognitive performance and hearing threshold using standard pure tone audiometry. The findings of the study were published in the March 2022 issue of the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
The study resulted in two main findings that are relevant to the issue of early intervention. First, researchers found that worse hearing was associated with significantly steeper cognitive decline. This indicates that an important step in protecting your cognitive function as you age is to treat any hearing loss as soon as possible.
Second, the results suggest that the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline may begin when the individual’s audiogram is still in the normal range. This means that hearing loss does not need to be severe in order to affect your cognitive function. Even minimal hearing loss can have serious, wide-reaching effects on your health.
This research, combined with other studies, underlines the importance of treating hearing loss as early as possible. Many people think they should wait to wear hearing aids until they can no longer hear properly or participate in conversations. On the contrary, you should seek treatment from a hearing professional for any changes in your hearing, even if they are small.
Here are a few steps you can take to protect your hearing, cognitive function, and overall health:

  • Get your hearing checked regularly. If your hearing begins to decline, even if it is in the normal range, ask your hearing professional whether you need treatment.
  • If you notice any changes in your hearing, speak with a hearing professional as soon as possible, even if it is not time for your regular hearing assessment.
  • If you have hearing aids, wear them! The only way to get the benefits of hearing aids is to wear them all the time when you are awake.
  • Stay physically active, eat a healthy diet, and see your doctor for an annual medical checkup. Since your physical health and your hearing health are connected, it’s important to take care of your overall health as well.

To learn more about the importance of early intervention for hearing loss and to schedule your next appointment with our hearing professional, we invite you to contact our office today. We look forward to caring for you.

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New Study Shows Promise for Helping Individuals with Auditory Sensitivity

Do you have auditory sensitivity? Auditory sensitivity, or hyperacusis, occurs when a person is overly sensitive to sounds. The most common cause of hyperacusis is damage to the inner ear due to aging or exposure to loud noise. For the most part, individuals with auditory sensitivity have been told there is not much that can be done for their condition and, besides taking simple steps like wearing headphones, they simply need to “deal with it.” A new study, however, shows promise for helping those with auditory sensitivity.
The study was published in the July 2022 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study was led by University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus researchers Andrew Mecca and Giusy Caprara, PhD, in the laboratory of Anthony Peng, PhD. The researchers focused on the gating spring, which is a tiny, nanometer-scale protein structure that mechanically opens and closes an ion channel in sensory hair cell cells in response to sound vibrations.
For years, hearing researchers have hypothesized that the gating spring can act as a controller of the ion channel’s activity. The purpose of the study was to test this hypothesis and further explore the function of the gating spring in modulating the sensitivity of the channel. The researchers found that modifying a physical property of the gating spring—its stiffness—can control how much the channel opens and closes in response to sound vibrations in the inner ear. In particular, the study revealed that a specific type of signaling molecule called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) reduced the stiffness of the gating spring and thereby decreased the channel’s sensitivity.
This study marks the first time a physiological mechanism for controlling gate spring stiffness has been identified. Peng, associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and senior author of the study, said, “Identifying the underlying mechanism of this process—how it works physiologically and mechanically—provides an avenue for future research and provides an opportunity for the field to develop a new type of drug that can be used to prevent a type of hearing loss that occurs from exposure to very loud sound.” One possible application of the new research is to help people protect their hearing from the effects of loud noise. This marks an important step forward in the field of audiology.
The findings of the study hold promise for people who suffer from auditory sensitivity as well. If a medication were developed that could modify the gating spring, it may be able to decrease auditory sensitivity. This could bring great relief to those who struggle with hyperacusis. In addition, this new research opens a door for a better understanding of how the auditory system functions in general and how it protects sensory cells from potential damage.

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4 Common Mistakes Made by Hearing Aid Users

If you have hearing loss, your hearing specialist might recommend hearing aids. Hearing aids are devices that help you hear speech and other sounds that you otherwise could not hear clearly. While the idea of using hearing aids might seem straightforward, there are several common mistakes people make when using hearing aids. This is especially true for new hearing aid users. Do you make any of these common hearing aid mistakes?
Hearing Aid Mistake #1: Putting in your hearing aids without checking the features and settings.
It might seem like a great idea to put in your new hearing aids right away once you receive them. However, it can be very worthwhile to check the features and settings first. Many modern hearing aids come with advanced features that can improve your quality of life and make using your hearing aids easier. If you simply put in your hearing aids without learning how these features work, you might be short-changing yourself and your hearing.
Furthermore, it’s important to make sure the settings are all set correctly before you start using your hearing aids. If the settings are not correct, you may not like wearing your hearing aids or you might not use them to their full extent. We recommend that you ask your hearing specialist to show you the features and settings on your new hearing aids and explore them yourself before you start wearing your devices.
Hearing Aid Mistake #2: Not having your hearing aids professionally fitted.
Now that over-the-counter hearing aids are becoming available, it is possible to get a hearing aid and start wearing it without it being professionally fitted. While this might seem like an easier option, it can cost you in the long run. One important benefit of having your hearing aids professionally fitted is that they will be as comfortable as possible. This is crucial since you will want to wear your hearing aids often (likely every day!) and will want to maximize comfort.
Hearing Aid Mistake #3: Not expecting a period of adjustment.
When you buy new shoes, you expect a period of “breaking them in,” when you will get used to wearing your new shoes. The same is true if you started wearing glasses; you would expect a period of adjusting to wearing lenses. Similarly, you should expect a period of adjustment for your new hearing aids.
One thing you can expect to adjust to is that your hearing with hearing aids is not exactly the same as normal hearing before hearing loss. It will be a little different, and it will also feel different from how you have become accustomed to hearing things with hearing loss. As long as you expect a period of adjustment, you will likely find it not too frustrating. If you need any help during this period, be sure to reach out to your hearing specialist. We want to make sure your transition to using hearing aids is as seamless as possible.
Hearing Aid Mistake #4: Not cleaning your hearing aids.
You want your hearing aids to last as long as possible, and one important factor in helping your devices last is cleaning them properly. It is essential that you clean your hearing aids on a regular basis—ideally every night when you take your hearing aids out before going to bed. Your hearing aids can collect dust and dirt that need to be cleaned off regularly. In addition, be sure to empty and clean the wax deposits every night. Failing to do so can prevent your hearing aids from working properly.
Avoiding these four mistakes can go a long way in helping your hearing aids last and ensuring that you get the most out of your devices. To learn more about the best way to use your hearing aids, we invite you to contact our hearing practice today.

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Can Treating Hearing Loss Reduce Stress? You May Be Surprised By The Answer

When you think about factors in your life that cause stress, you might think of some of the obvious answers: your job, family responsibilities, or current events. However, did you know that hearing loss can cause stress too? Here is how hearing loss and stress are connected.
The Connection between Hearing Loss and Stress
Untreated hearing loss can lead to increased stress levels. This is because people with untreated hearing loss often experience what is known as listening fatigue. Listening fatigue is what happens when you constantly need to concentrate on speech, social cues, or lipreading to try to understand what is being said to you. Untreated hearing loss can cause you to feel exhausted without doing extra physical work because of the mental work required.
Listening fatigue is common among both children and adults with untreated hearing loss. It can result in increased stress due to the strain of trying to understand speech and other sounds. Thankfully, there is good news: you can reduce both listening fatigue and stress by wearing hearing aids.
The Link between Tinnitus and Stress
Yes, tinnitus can cause stress as well. Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, has an interesting relationship with stress. As you might expect, a constant ringing in the ears can make you feel stressed or on edge. In addition, stress can make tinnitus worse.
People with tinnitus often report that their tinnitus worsens during times of increased stress. One study that polled people with tinnitus found that 53.6 percent of respondents said that their tinnitus began during a stressful time of their life. Furthermore, 52.8 percent of people polled reported that their tinnitus increased during a stressful period.
As with hearing loss, using hearing aids can reduce tinnitus. A study conducted among hearing professionals found that approximately 60 percent of patients reported mild to major relief from tinnitus when wearing hearing aids. About 20 percent of hearing professionals said their patients reported major relief from tinnitus thanks to hearing aids. Hearing aids can be an effective treatment for both hearing loss and tinnitus, which can in turn reduce your stress levels.
The Importance of Managing Stress
Why is it important to manage your stress levels? Overall, stress can have detrimental effects on your body. High stress levels can contribute to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Stress can also cause headaches, jaw pain, poor sleep, trouble concentrating, changes in appetite, frequent mood swings, and feeling overwhelmed. Treating your hearing loss or tinnitus can be one step in managing your stress levels and taking care of your health.
Some other effective ways to manage stress include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Making time to enjoy your hobbies
  • Using breathing exercises
  • Managing your time and prioritizing your responsibilities
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • Eating well
  • Talking to friends, family, or a counselor about what is stressing you

To learn more about how you can manage stress and to set up an appointment with our hearing healthcare specialist, we welcome you to contact our practice today.

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What Is the Connection Between Hearing Loss and Anxiety?

If you suspect your hearing has gotten worse, or if you have recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, you may be feeling anxious. Anxiety, which is a persistent heightened state of alert, is normal with any stressful situation, including those related to your health and wellbeing. However, when normal anxiety becomes long-lasting and invasive, it becomes a disorder in and of itself. Over the years, research has shown that hearing loss and anxiety are connected. What is that connection?
Types of Anxiety
Mental health professionals generally distinguish between five types of anxiety:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

Hearing loss may be related to various types of anxiety. For example, if you are involved in an accident or injury that leads to sudden hearing loss, you may experience post-traumatic stress disorder. On the other hand, if you have hearing loss but are constantly looking for symptoms of dementia, you may have generalized anxiety disorder.
In addition to causing constant “what if” worries, anxiety can also cause physical symptoms. These may include nausea, muscle aches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, or a feeling of dread. If anxious thoughts and physical symptoms are persistent and interfere with your quality of life, it may be time to seek professional help.
The Link between Hearing Loss and Anxiety
If you have hearing loss, you may feel that you have a lot to worry about. What if you don’t hear something important? What if you can’t hear someone talking at dinner? What if you miss the punchline to a joke? What if your hearing aid batteries die? What if you misunderstand someone and embarrass yourself? These “what if” scenarios could go on and on.
Research supports the link between hearing loss and anxiety. In one study of nearly 4,000 French people aged 65 and older that was conducted over a 12-year period, researchers found that people diagnosed with hearing loss at the beginning of the study had a greater likelihood of developing anxiety symptoms over time. Another study of more than 1,700 adults aged 76 to 85 found that having mild hearing loss resulted in a 32 percent higher risk of reporting anxiety. For those with moderate or higher hearing loss, the risk of anxiety increased to 59 percent.
The connection between hearing loss and anxiety seems to go the other way, too. One study of more than 10,500 adults in Taiwan found that those with an anxiety disorder had a greater risk of sudden hearing loss. In the French study mentioned above, participants who reported generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) but not hearing loss at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop hearing loss than those without GAD.
Worry about Hearing Loss vs. Social Anxiety
If you have hearing loss, you may feel anxious about social situations. How can you tell whether you have social anxiety or you’re simply worried about social interactions?
In general, people with social anxiety feel anxious about any situation in which they might be negatively judged, whether it’s a date, job interview, party, small talk, or group lunch. If you have hearing loss, you may also feel anxious about social situations, especially if you are worried about not being able to hear, about mishearing other people, or about feeling left out. If you can solve your worries by using a hearing aid, you probably don’t have social anxiety. If you feel anxious about social situations but still enjoy being around people, your social anxiety may be mild. If you have extreme social anxiety, simply sitting near other people could make you anxious.
The Takeaway
Research has shown that hearing loss and anxiety are connected, although further research remains to be done to explore exactly how these two conditions are linked. Fortunately, anxiety is highly treatable. If you believe that you have anxiety—whether or not you think it’s related to hearing loss—you can seek help from a medical doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. Of course, hearing aids are available to treat hearing loss as well, which may alleviate some of your anxious thinking.
To learn more about the link between hearing loss and anxiety, we welcome you to contact our office today. We are happy to provide the information you need.