Hearing loss isn’t normal

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The ears collect, organize, and amplify sounds but the brain does the real work. When the ears don’t work properly, the brain gets a garbled message and the listener spends all their effort trying to interpret it.

By Mary Malik

May is “Better Hearing Month” and serves as a reminder to get your hearing checked. But make sure you’re being examined by a doctor of audiology.

“A great audiologist once said, ‘The ears are the doorway to the brain,’” says founder of Sounds of Life Hearing Sarah Curtis, Au.D. “We gather so much information by conversations and the sounds we hear. The ears collect, organize, and amplify sounds but the brain does the real work. When the ears don’t work properly, the brain gets a garbled message and the listener spends all their effort trying to interpret it.”

Dr. Curtis has many patients who have retreated from things they enjoy because they struggle with hearing. Giving up on conversations to avoid asking someone to repeat themselves or agreeing to things they didn’t fully understand is exhausting and stressful.

“Brain studies have shown evidence of this stress (Glick and Sharma, 2018),” says Dr. Curtis. “And the study (Lin et al. at Johns Hopkins, 2017) found that hearing loss is the highest modifiable risk factor for dementia. Other studies support a strong correlation that the worse the hearing loss, the more severe the dementia.”

While Dr. Curtis cannot say that hearing aids prevent dementia, studies suggest that when hearing aids are appropriately fit, the decline into dementia may slow (Buholc et al. 2021).

“Hearing loss is not uncommon as we age but it’s never ‘normal,’” says Dr. Curtis. “Don’t delay and call an audiologist. You might give your brain a break.”

Sounds of Life Hearing Center is located at 8007 Auburn Road, Suite 1, in Concord Township. For more information call 440-579-4085, or check the website SoundsOfLifeHC.com.