Hearing Health Blog

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

Want to take all the fun out of your next family get-together? Start to talk about dementia.

The subject of dementia can be really frightening and most individuals aren’t going to go out of their way to discuss it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, makes you lose a grip on reality, experience loss of memory, and brings about an over-all loss of mental function. Nobody wants to experience that.

For this reason, many individuals are seeking a way to prevent, or at least delay, the development of dementia. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.

You may be surprised by that. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss raise chances of dementia?

What occurs when your hearing impairment goes untreated?

You realize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of worries. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your television won’t fix, right? Maybe you’ll just turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.

Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone unnoticed so far. Maybe the signs are still easy to dismiss. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a strong connection. That may have something to do with what occurs when you have untreated hearing loss.

  • It becomes more difficult to understand conversations. Consequently, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You might become distant from loved ones and friends. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself this way. Not to mention your social life. Additionally, many individuals who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they likely won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
  • Your brain will be working harder. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stick with us). Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then need to get extra power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the present concept). It’s believed that this might quicken the development of dementia. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the outcome of your brain having to work so hard.

You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it actually is.

Hearing loss is one of the major indicators of dementia

Let’s say you only have slight hearing impairment. Whispers might get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to develop dementia as someone who does not have hearing loss.

Which means that even minor hearing loss is a pretty strong preliminary indication of a dementia risk.

So… How should we understand this?

Well, it’s important not to forget that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Instead, it just means you have a greater risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that might actually be good news.

Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you reduce your chance of dementia. So how can hearing loss be addressed? There are numerous ways:

  • Schedule an appointment with us to diagnose your existing hearing loss.
  • If your hearing loss is detected early, there are some measures you can take to protect your hearing. You could, for instance, wear ear protection if you work in a noisy environment and avoid noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
  • The impact of hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids stop cognitive decline? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can boost brain function. This is why: You’ll be able to participate in more conversations, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Your chance of developing dementia in the future is decreased by managing hearing loss, research suggests. That’s not the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.

Lowering your risk of dementia – other methods

Naturally, there are other things you can do to decrease your risk of dementia, too. This might include:

  • Get some exercise.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will increase your chance of cognitive decline and will impact your general health (this list also includes drinking too much alcohol).
  • Eating more healthy food, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to take medication to lower it.
  • Getting sufficient sleep at night is imperative. Some research links an increased chance of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep every night.

The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being examined by scientists. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complicated. But the lower your risk, the better.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, hearing better will help decrease your overall danger of developing dementia in the future. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more garbled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely visits to the grocery store.

It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. 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 today!

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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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