Early Hearing Loss Could Pave the Way For Dementia, Study SaysAudiology by Accent
People are exposed to loud sounds throughout their lives, including people who live in urban environments. However, city noises are normally not loud enough to damage your hearing. However, if you are consistently exposed to sounds that exceed a certain threshold of loudness, they can damage your hearing over time.
Measurement of sounds
The intensity of sounds is measured in decibels. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sounds can be designated as harmless or dangerous based on their decibel levels.
Normal sounds, including soft background noises, are measured around 60 decibels. Slightly louder sounds like the sound of an air conditioner are around 70 decibels. City traffic noises can be measured from 80 to 85 decibels. If you are chronically exposed to sounds greater than 85 decibels but less than 120 decibels, your hearing can be damaged. An example of sound at this level includes listening to music at the maximum volume while using headphones, using power tools, or sitting near to the amplifiers at a concert. If you are exposed to very loud noises that exceed 120 decibels, you can experience immediate hearing loss.
Recently, a study conducted by Ohio State University researchers found that young people who suffer minor hearing loss demonstrate brain activity changes that are normally only found in elderly people. The researchers stated that their findings demonstrate that minor deficits in hearing can cause younger people to use cognitive resources that they could otherwise use until they are much older.
Characteristics of brain activity during the aging process
The researchers recruited 35 people from ages 18 to 41. The participants had functional MRIs performed while they listen to sentences of different complexities. They wanted to monitor and compare brain activity when listeners have to process messages that have a simple sentence structure versus sentences with more complex structures.
They found that some of the young participants had slight hearing losses when they were tested at the baseline. When they conducted the fMRIs, the researchers found that the young people who had subtle hearing losses processed the sentences that they heard in a different way than the participants without hearing losses. Their brain activity patterns were also much more similar to the older listeners in the group.
Young people who had no hearing loss used the left brain hemisphere to process the information. However, young people with minor hearing losses processed the information with both the left and right brain hemispheres. They also showed activity in their right frontal cortex regions, which was something that is normally only observed in older people. The lead researcher said that this type of brain activity should normally not be seen until people reach age 50.
Get help from Audiology by Accent
If you are suffering from a minor hearing impairment, getting help can improve the quality of your life. The professionals at Audiology by Accent in Gainesville, Florida can evaluate your hearing and help you to determine the best solution. Contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling us at (352) 271-5373.