Untreated hearing loss can result in cognitive impairment as certain parts of the brain deteriorate without aural stimulation and the brain overcompensates for gaps in hearing, leading to problems with concentration and fatigue.
There are also indications that untreated hearing loss can accelerate dementia.
“Brain scans show us that hearing loss may contribute to a faster rate of atrophy in the brain,” Lin says. “Hearing loss also contributes to social isolation. You may not want to be with people as much, and when you are you may not engage in conversation as much. These factors may contribute to dementia.”
As you walk, your ears pick up subtle cues that help with balance. Hearing loss mutes these important signals, Lin notes. “It also makes your brain work harder just to process sound. This subconscious multitasking may interfere with some of the mental processing needed to walk safely.”
Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D