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

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

The topic of dementia can be very frightening and most individuals aren’t going to purposely discuss it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, causes you to lose touch with reality, experience loss of memory, and brings about a general loss of mental function. It’s not something anyone looks forward to.

So stopping or at least delaying dementia is important for many people. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.

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

When you neglect hearing loss, what are the repercussions?

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

But then again, maybe you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still easy to disregard. Either way, hearing loss and mental decline have a powerful correlation. That may have something to do with what happens when you have neglected hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could begin to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You can withdraw from friends, family, and loved ones. You won’t talk with people as much. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself like this. And naturally your social life. Further, most people who have this type of isolation won’t even realize that hearing loss is the cause.
  • 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 kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). Because of this, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. The current theory is, when this happens, your brain pulls power from your thinking and memory centers. The thinking is that after a while this contributes to dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Your brain working so hard can also result in all manner of other symptoms, like mental stress and tiredness.

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

Hearing loss is one of the primary signs of dementia

Let’s say you only have slight hearing impairment. Whispers might get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, turns out you’re still two times as likely to get dementia as someone who doesn’t have hearing loss.

Meaning that even mild hearing loss is a fairly strong preliminary sign of a dementia risk.

So… How should we interpret this?

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 just means you have a greater risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But there might be an upside.

Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you lower your chance of dementia. So how can you manage your hearing loss? There are a number of ways:

  • The impact of hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids stop dementia? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we know that brain function can be improved by wearing hearing aids. This is the reason why: You’ll be more socially active and your brain won’t have to work so hard to carry on discussions. Research implies that treating hearing loss can help reduce your danger 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 caught early, there are certain steps you can take to protect your hearing. You could, for instance, use hearing protection if you work in a loud setting and avoid noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
  • Come see us so we can help you determine any hearing loss you might have.

Lowering your chance of dementia – other strategies

You can decrease your risk of dementia by doing some other things as well, of course. This might include:

  • Stop smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your risk of cognitive decline as well as impacting your general health (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
  • Exercise is needed for good overall health including hearing health.
  • Getting adequate sleep at night is crucial. Some research links a higher risk of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep each night.
  • A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is generally healthy can go a long way. In some cases, medication can help here, some people just have naturally higher blood pressure; those people may need medication sooner rather than later.

Of course, scientists are still studying 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.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, hearing better will help reduce your general danger of developing dementia in the future. But it’s not only your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s today. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.

Missing out on the important things in life is no fun. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.

So call us today for an appointment.

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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.