Hearing loss is something that we associate with only the ears, when in reality it significantly affects the brain as well. While our ears serve as input devices, much like the keyboard does to a laptop, the actual process of deciphering and interpreting sound occurs in the auditory center of the brain.
Our ears are wonderful receptors of sound. The outer ear picks up various sound signals and sends them towards the middle ear, where they cause vibrations within the eardrum which sends signals towards your inner ear. Once the sound waves reach your inner ears, they are transformed into electrical impulses through the use of the miniscule hair follicles inside the inner ear. These electrical impulses are then transported to the brain where they are processed and interpreted as comprehensible sound.
Due to the crucial role that the brain plays in hearing, it undergoes severe stress and fatigue when hearing loss comes into play. When the ears cannot send sound signals properly to the brain, this gives the brain incomplete information to work with. Incomplete information is often sent due to the hair follicles dying out due to hearing loss, which makes it difficult for sound waves to be converted to electrical signals. With time, this added mental pressure on the brain can lead to cognitive decline and even dementia.
When the brain cannot hear sounds, it sometimes manifests phantom sounds, which leads to the condition we know as tinnitus. This usually occurs as a compensatory tactic of the brain in order to create the illusion of sound when there is no real auditory information available.
The brain works hard to make sense of our world each and every day. Hearing loss only doubles the load on our brains to try and make sense of an already complicated world. This is why it is important to take care of your brain by taking care of your ears.
Use hearing protection such as earplugs before exposing yourself to loud noises. Limit your exposure to loud noises by turning down the volume on your electronic audio and video devices. Always remember to get your hearing tested at the earliest signs of hearing loss. Treat your hearing loss using heard aids to ease the burden on your brain and to help you lead a more satisfying, fulfilling life.
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