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

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

Dementia is not a topic most people are actively looking to discuss, mostly because it’s rather scary. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, causes you to lose touch with reality, experience memory loss, and brings about an over-all loss of mental function. Nobody wants to experience that.

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

That may seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, actually)? Why are the risks of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?

When you ignore hearing loss, what are the consequences?

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

On the other hand, perhaps you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still hard to detect. In either case, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a strong connection. That may have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.

  • It becomes harder to understand conversations. You could begin to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You might become removed from loved ones and friends. You speak to others less. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself like this. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most people who have this sort of isolation won’t even realize that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will start to work much harder. Your ears will get less audio information when you have untreated hearing loss. As a result, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. The current theory is, when this happens, your brain pulls power from your thought and memory centers. The idea is that after a while this leads to dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Your brain working so hard can also cause all kinds of other symptoms, such as mental fatigue and tiredness.

You might have suspected that your hearing loss was more harmless than it really is.

One of the principal indicators of dementia is hearing loss

Let’s say you just have mild hearing impairment. Whispers may get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, turns out you’re still two times as likely to develop dementia as somebody who doesn’t have hearing loss.

So one of the initial indications of dementia can be even mild hearing loss.

So… How should we interpret this?

We’re looking at risk in this circumstance which is relevant to note. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will lead to dementia. Rather, it just means you have a greater risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But there could be an upside.

Because it means that effectively managing your hearing loss can help you lower your chance of dementia. So how can hearing loss be addressed? Here are several ways:

  • Make an appointment with us to diagnose your present hearing loss.
  • If your hearing loss is caught early, there are certain steps you can take to protect your hearing. You could, for instance, wear hearing protection if you work in a noisy setting and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
  • The affect of hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids prevent cognitive decline? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we recognize that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. This is why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t have to work so hard to have conversations. Research indicates that treating hearing loss can help decrease your danger of developing dementia in the future. That’s not the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.

Lowering your chance of dementia – other strategies

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

  • Eating a healthy diet, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to take medication to bring it down.
  • Exercise is needed for good overall health including hearing health.
  • Be sure you get plenty of sleep every night. Some studies have linked a higher risk of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep every night.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, including your chance of developing cognitive decline (excess alcohol use can also go on this list).

Needless to say, scientists are still researching the link between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complicated disease with a matrix of causes. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.

Hearing is its own benefit

So, hearing better will help decrease your general risk of developing cognitive decline in the future. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.

It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And a little bit of hearing loss management, perhaps in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.

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

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