By DR TREASURE KENNY
The month of October is deemed Audiology Awareness Month by the American Academy of Audiology. In honour of this month it is certainly incumbent upon me to share how important hearing is to our overall health and well-being.
Hearing loss is an invisible disorder yet it can have such a significant impact on our interactions with the world. But have we really thought about how hearing loss ties in with the body? Let’s consider the following:
• Brain health: Particularly in older adults, hearing loss takes away from cognitive resources used for memory due to a greater effort needed to understand speech. Lost connections between the inner ear and brain also cause shrinkage of the auditory cortex.
• Psychological health: Untreated hearing loss may lead to depression and social isolation. Again for older adults, social isolation is a known risk factor for dementia.
• Cardiovascular health: Conditions such as smoking, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes may lead to reduced blood flow and oxygen to the inner ear, later contributing to permanent hearing loss.
• Vestibular health: The greater the degree of hearing loss, the greater the risk of having a slip or fall. This may be due to less spatial awareness or a reduction in cognitive resources dedicated to balance as a result of hearing loss. This threat increases with age.
Hearing is definitely ingrained into overall wellness. Consider getting your hearing tested today.
• Dr Treasure Kenny is an audiologist. She can be reached at the Family Medicine Centre on Blake Road. Call 702-9310.