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Lifestyle: Sensory loss

14 Aug 2018

Our sensory systems (taste, smell, hearing, balance and vision) pull information from the outside world for our brains to make sense of so we can react appropriately.

Unlike the cells in the rest of our body, which die and are replaced repeatedly throughout our life, the cells and circuits in our brain and sensory system are intended to last our whole lives.

Help! I should look after my senses a bit better if I want them to last to 101.

A breakdown anywhere along the relay system from the initial sensory input to the brain will affect our ability to sense. Here we are talking about a loss of taste, smell, hearing, balance or vision. And as we discussed in a recent article, hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia.

The Canterbury University website on Brain Research introduces the problem of one kind of sensory loss – tinnitus. More than 30% of adults aged over 55 years of age report tinnitus symptoms according to the site.

Tinnitus is the perception of ringing or buzzing in your ears or head. It can reduce one’s quality of life through sleep disturbances, mental problems, work impairment and in severe cases can result in depression and suicide.

Several sites are available on-line that give background information about tinnitus. One I have chosen that provides plenty of good information can be found here.

The good news is that for most adults the symptoms of tinnitus are mild and brief, and people can learn to live with it quite satisfactorily in some cases. Although there is no cure, as such, there are several treatments that can help. The key thing is, as with all sensory system loss, not to leave it untreated as it will surely reduce the quality of life if you let it. In the same way we never hesitate to get our eyesight tested and treated if we notice our eyesight deteriorating, we should keep on top of all the other senses too, especially as we age. Don’t leave it too late to do something about it. Coping with treatment is likely to get harder with age, so get in early to give yourself the best possible chance of a good outcome.

Keep asking great questions …

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