The link between hearing loss and dementia has been firmly established. Studies are proving that there is a distinct link between loss of cognitive memory, hearing loss and dementia.
In a 2011 study, Dr. Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist and epidemiologist at John Hopkins University did a paper in the The Archives of Neurology and found that when hearing loss is present, the brain spends an inordinate amount of time and energy translating sounds, causing the hearer to have no processing power left to search for words, a phenomena he calls, "cognitive overload."
This is of special concern as we see increasing noise pollution in our society, as well as a generation of children who have grown up with perpetual ear buds in their ears blasting music. Studies in the American Journal of Pediatrics show more than 5 million kids now suffer hearing loss. This is a significant thing to discuss with your children and grandchildren. These studies show an accelerated level of hearing loss as adults when damage occurs at a young age.
Discuss with your kid the amount of time spent with headphones or ear buds on. This includes any device from mp3's to gaming systems. Try some of the following suggestions:
- Explain how loud noises and sounds can damage and even kill sensitive cells in the cochlea, the inner-ear chamber were hearing happens.
- If you hear ringing in your ears, damage is already occurring.
- If someone sitting next to you can hear sound emitting from your ear buds,"earphone leakage", it is too loud.
- If you feel a 'fullness' in your ears or have a hard time hearing when you take out your ear buds, it's too loud.
- Limit using your ear buds to an hour a day.
- Keep your setting on a 5-6 range if it goes up to 10.
- Go through this checklist http://healthlibrary.pvhs.org/RelatedItems/1,2790 to see if your child is at potential danger for hearing loss.
- Practice listening to sounds around you, from nature sounds to traffic noise. Help your child identify what noise pollution is.
Protect your hearing now, for your future!
Shelli Rossignol lmt/cr February 2013
- John Hopkins Medicine.org
- University of Colorado Health
- NPR news/Health