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Caring for your hearing health is a vital component of your overall well-being. There are several ways to incorporate screenings or hearing exams into your routine checkup. You can simply request a hearing exam as a part of an annual physical or you can use online resources and take a hearing test from the comfort of your home. Though online hearing tests are not as thorough as an exam from an audiologist, they can give you a general idea of your hearing.
If you are experiencing a hearing loss, it is best to schedule an appointment with a hearing health care professional so they can assess the level of hearing loss in each ear and recommend treatment. Often, hearing aids are a treatment that can help you hear again and improve your quality of life.
People with untreated hearing loss often suffer in various areas of their lives. Not only is your overall health at risk, but you may develop social anxiety, mental fatigue, depression, and/or a host of other conditions. Not to mention poor workplace performance as a result of any one or a combination of these.
Hearing Loss and Your Mood
There is an area of study being examined to track the connection between your hearing and your mood. With a focus on the neurotransmitter dopamine, University of Washington Vancouver research scientist Christine Porfors, with help from David Perkel, professor of biology and otolaryngology at the University of Washington, aim to examine the effects of dopamine in hearing health.
Dopamine and hearing have one major thing in common: the brain. Though hearing is a sense we associate with our ears, the brain actually translates the noise gathered by our ears into information. The organ of Corti is the receptor organ for hearing, located in the cochlea, that converts auditory signals and is a catalyst for cell-to-cell communication to the brain along cochlear nerve fibers. The most common type of disabling hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, occurs when this pathway is damaged. Aging (presbycusis) and noise exposure are very common causes of this type of hearing loss. Although hearing aids and cochlear implants can help this condition, there is no cure.
A study on the effect of a protein responsible for transporting dopamine to nerve synopses, the aptly named dopamine transporter, was published in the May 2006 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience by French researchers. The study found that dopamine is essential in maintaining healthy auditory nerve neurons and how they respond to various sound stimuli.
Porfors and Perkel’s study looks to explore the effects of dopamine on brain cells, synapses and neural circuits in relation to auditory processing. They infer neurons may respond differently to sounds and voices when dopamine is introduced. They will use recordings of the love songs of male mice singing to female mice with and without genetically engineered Parkinson’s disease and study the effects on the auditory nerve when they are replayed.
Improve Your Quality of Life with Hearing Aids
Myriad negative physical, mental, and social implications can accompany untreated hearing loss. It can lead to social isolation and loneliness, which can lead to depression. It can also have various effects on family and personal relationships. Fraught conversations and impatience and frustration with repetition, can lead to eventual withdrawal. Untreated hearing loss can also influence your physical health and well-being and reduce physical activity. These indicators all suggest that people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to have other chronic medical conditions than people with normal hearing.
Many hearing aid users report that their quality of life has improved and that hearing aids, or other hearing solutions like cochlear implants, have had a positive effect on their overall health. They are less physically and mentally exhausted, they get better sleep, have better memory function, and report less depression than non-users.
Evidence shows that treating your disabling hearing loss is beneficial in a variety of ways. Wearing hearing aids or other hearing-assistive devices can allow you continued success in your career and a healthy social life, too.
At Audiology Central, we provide comprehensive hearing health services. If a hearing loss is detected, we will discuss your lifestyle and hearing needs so we can fine-tune a device to your specific needs. We will also give you helpful information about care and maintenance and support available to you as a new hearing aid user. Our team at Audiology Central is here to ensure good hearing health for years to come.