Memory loss linked to hearing loss

Studies show that a person with an uncorrected hearing loss, who is trying hard to listen and make sense of what’s being said, does poorly at remembering what has been said. It appears that the brain shifts its focus, in order to comprehend real-time speech, leaving very little to remember what’s been said.  Experts call this ‘Cognitive Load’ and it can be described as similar to streaming video on a slow Internet connection, where the results are frustrating, choppy and nearly useless.

Here are ten tips to reduce your brain’s cognitive load and increase the success of your connection with friends and family:

  • Have your hearing tested if you suspect it’s not as acute as it used to be and you have increased problems understanding.
  • Maximize your hearing ability by wearing hearing aids if you have a hearing loss
  • Reduce multiple activities so you can concentrate on one thing at a time; cooking the meal while trying to carry on a conversation.
  • Try to relax. Find a quiet spot and take a break from noise when agitated.
  • It’s not necessary to understand every word that is said.  Use your eyes to pick up non-verbal visual cues to help what is being said.  And instead of asking people to repeat, ask them to rephrase.  Often times it’s only one word that makes the difference between understanding or not.
  • Trying to hide a disability is stressful. Therefore, talk about your hearing loss and explain your situation to others so that they know you might not understand everything said
  • Others don’t judge you by your disabilities but by how well you overcome them
  • Avoid being frustrated by people with soft voices in noisy environments, either find a quieter place to have a conversation. Face the directly and be close.
  • Familiarize yourself with your hearing aid controls, and which settings are best in noisy environments
  • Anticipate the chances of hearing aid failing at the worst possible time by prior proper maintenance and operating on fresh batteries

Heart Trouble and hearing loss connection

Numerous scientific studies in recent years confirm the link between heart disease and hearing health. The connection seems to come from the small but required amount of oxygen rich blood circulating through the inner ear (cochlea).

When cardiovascular health problems cause changes in the heart’s efficiency, it can be reflected in a person’s hearing health as well. A loss of hearing sensitivity can be one of the earliest symptoms of heart disease.

To potentially predict signs of heart related issues, an annual hearing check to monitor your hearing health can be considered a smart early detection system for potential heart health problems down the road.

As a result of the compelling body of evidence linking the heart and the hearing, there has become an increased collaboration among cardiologists, hearing care providers and other healthcare professionals – working together to find solutions.

There are five main warning signs of an impending cardiovascular event. Their continued presence oftentimes means that a physician should be consulted and that a person may be in danger.

The warning signs are;

  1. Chest pain
  2. Light-headedness, dizziness, and other pain
  3. Changes to your ability to exercise
  4. Heavy or labored breathing
  5. Feeling unwell or fatigued

Since you may already in trouble by the time one or more of the above warning signs manifests itself,  it is reassuring that there is something that can alert you to a heart problem much earlier? The earlier a heart problem is detected the more likely it becomes that you can take steps to avoid suffering a heart attack.

Researchers such as David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee have concluded that the onset of hearing loss for people even as young as their forties can be just such an early warning. This means that if you notice sounds becoming little less clear, or that the TV needs to be turned up a little louder, getting your hearing checked may be a lifesaver.

Here are 4 other facts about the relationship between your heart and your ears.

  1.  Both heart disease and untreated hearing loss are linked to increased risks of depression. However, among those with hearing loss that use hearing aids are more likely to be a more optimistic and positive outlook on life as they become more reengaged in their lives.
  2. Increased levels of exercise is beneficial for both your heart and your ears. By keeping your body active through walking, or anything that increases your physical activity you are also helping to keep blood pumping strongly through your heart as well as improving oxygen rich blood circulation to your ears.
  3. Smoking has known links to numerous cardiovascular problems and also plays a role in increased hearing loss risks as well. It is unclear whether or not the toxins in tobacco smoke affect hearing directly, however the damaging effects they have on respiratory and heart health are clear and this in turn has a negative effect on the ears.
  4. Healthy eating habits keep both your heart and hearing in better shape. Diets rich in the proper nutrients, vitamins and minerals can help our bodies and heart in countless ways, especially when combined with an exercise regimen. For example, diets containing increased amounts of antioxidants (vegetables) and omega 3 fatty acids (wild fish) can help protect skin, tissues and organs as well as strengthen blood vessels.

Remember to schedule an annual hearing screening along with your annual physical, dental checkup and eye exam, you can help protect your hearing health. If you have a hearing loss, wearing hearing aids will further protect your health and aid your happiness.

Personality changes with hearing loss, study shows

People tend to become less outgoing as they age, with a new study from the University of Gothenburg indicating this change is more apparent in those suffering from hearing loss.

Researchers studied 400 individuals 80-98 years old over the course of six years. Subjects were tested for mental and physical prowess every two years, including personality characteristics such as emotional stability and extraversion. Results indicated that even if emotional stability stayed the same during the study period, participants became less outgoing.

Researchers could not connect the changes to most physical or cognitive impairments, or to difficulty finding social activities. Hearing loss was the only thing linked to reduced extraversion, and use of hearing aids did not affect this link — indicating to researchers that providing support in the use of such hearing aids is key.

​​​​​​​”To our knowledge, this is the first time a link between hearing and personality changes has been established in longitudinal studies…. If the perceived quality of social interaction goes down, it may eventually affect whether and how we relate to others,” said Anne Ingeborg Berg, PhD, licensed psychologist and researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg.

“Our previous studies have shown that outgoing individuals are happier with their lives. It is hypothesized that an outgoing personality reflects a positive approach to life, but it also probably shows how important it is for most people to share both joy and sadness with others,” she added.