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

If you begin talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will most likely put a dark cloud above the entire event.

The subject of dementia can be really scary and most individuals aren’t going to go out of their way to talk about it. A degenerative mental disease in which you gradually (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory issues. No one wants to experience that.

So preventing or at least delaying dementia is a priority for many individuals. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have some pretty clear connections and correlations.

That might seem a bit… surprising to you. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why are the risks of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?

What takes place when your hearing loss is neglected?

You realize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of worries. You can simply turn up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll simply put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite program.

On the other hand, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still easy to disregard. Either way, hearing loss and mental decline have a solid connection. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes harder to understand. As a result, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You may become removed from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with people as much. It’s not good for your brain to isolate yourself this way. It’s not good for your social life either. What’s more, many individuals who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even recognize it’s happening, and they likely won’t attribute their solitude to their hearing.
  • Your brain will be working harder. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This will really exhaust your brain. The current concept is, when this occurs, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. It’s thought that this might hasten the onset of cognitive decline. Your brain working so hard can also cause all kinds of other symptoms, like mental stress and tiredness.

So your hearing impairment isn’t quite as harmless as you might have thought.

One of the leading signs of dementia is hearing loss

Let’s say you have only slight hearing loss. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else sounds just fine. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to get dementia as someone who doesn’t have hearing loss.

Meaning that even minor hearing loss is a pretty good initial sign of a risk of dementia.

Now… What does that mean?

We’re considering risk in this circumstance which is important to note. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there isn’t any guarantee it will lead to dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a higher chance of developing cognitive decline. But there may be an upside.

Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by successfully dealing with your hearing loss. So how can hearing loss be managed? There are several ways:

  • Using a hearing aid can help minimize the affect of hearing loss. So, can cognitive decline be stopped by using hearing aids? That’s difficult to say, but hearing aids can improve brain function. This is why: You’ll be capable of participating in more discussions, your brain won’t need to work as hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially involved. Your chance of developing dementia later in life is reduced by treating hearing loss, research indicates. That’s not the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
  • Make an appointment with us to identify your current hearing loss.
  • If your hearing loss is caught early, there are some measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. As an example, you could avoid noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).

Lowering your risk of dementia – other methods

You can reduce your risk of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. This could include:

  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep each night. Some research links an increased risk of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep every night.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Stop smoking. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, and that includes your chance of experiencing dementia (this list also includes drinking too much alcohol).
  • Eating a healthy diet, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. Sometimes, medication can help here, some individuals simply have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals could need medication sooner rather than later.

Needless to say, scientists are still studying the connection between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complex disease with an array of causes. But any way you can lower your risk is good.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, hearing better will help reduce your general danger of developing dementia down the line. But it isn’t just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s now. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more garbled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely visits to the grocery store.

Missing out on the important things in life is no fun. And a small amount of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!

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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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