Hearing test showing ear of senior man with sound waves simulation technology

If you start talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will most likely put a dark cloud over the entire event.

Dementia isn’t a subject most people are actively looking to talk about, mainly because it’s pretty scary. A degenerative mental disease in which you slowly (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, experience mood swings, and have memory loss. No one wants to go through that.

For this reason, many people are looking for a way to counter, or at least slow, the development of dementia. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have some fairly clear connections and correlations.

You may be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, actually)? Why are the risks of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?

What takes place when your hearing loss is neglected?

Perhaps you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you aren’t that worried about it. You can just crank up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll simply turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.

On the other hand, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still hard to detect. Mental decline and hearing loss are strongly connected either way. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. Consequently, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You might become distant from loved ones and friends. You speak to others less. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself like this. Not to mention your social life. What’s more, many people who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even recognize it’s happening, and they most likely won’t attribute their solitude to their hearing.
  • Your brain will start to work a lot harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stay with us). As a result, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This is incredibly taxing. The current theory is, when this happens, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. The idea is that over time this results in dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Your brain working so hard can also result in all kinds of other symptoms, like mental fatigue and tiredness.

So your hearing loss isn’t quite as harmless as you might have believed.

One of the major indicators of dementia is hearing loss

Let’s say you just have slight hearing loss. Whispers may get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to get dementia as somebody who doesn’t have hearing loss.

Which means that even mild hearing loss is a pretty strong preliminary sign of a dementia risk.

Now… What does that suggest?

We’re considering risk in this circumstance which is relevant to note. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it simply means you have a higher chance of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But there could be an upside.

Your risk of cognitive decline is reduced by successfully dealing with your hearing loss. So how do you deal with your hearing loss? Here are a few ways:

  • Come see us so we can help you identify any hearing loss you may have.
  • The impact of hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids stop dementia? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. This is why: You’ll be capable of participating in more conversations, your brain won’t need to work so hard, and you’ll be a little more socially connected. Research indicates that treating hearing loss can help minimize your risk of developing dementia when you get older. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
  • If your hearing loss is detected early, there are certain measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. For example, you could stay away from noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re near anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).

Other ways to reduce your dementia risk

You can reduce your chance of cognitive decline by doing some other things too, of course. This might include:

  • A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to use medication to bring it down.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Quit smoking. Seriously. Smoking will raise your chance of cognitive decline as well as impacting your overall health (excessive alcohol drinking is also on this list).
  • Getting sufficient sleep at night is essential. There are studies that link less than four hours of sleep every night to a higher risk of dementia.

Of course, scientists are still researching the link between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complex disease with an array of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.

Hearing is its own benefit

So, hearing better will help reduce your general risk of developing cognitive decline down the line. But it’s not just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s right now. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely visits to the grocery store.

Missing out on the important things in life stinks. And taking steps to manage your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.

So call us today for an appointment.

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References

https://publichealth.jhu.edu/2021/hearing-loss-and-the-dementia-connection

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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