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.

The subject of dementia can be really frightening and most people aren’t going to purposely 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. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.

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

That might seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, it turns out)? Why does hearing loss raise chances of dementia?

When you disregard hearing loss, what are the repercussions?

You realize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of worries. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll just put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.

But then again, perhaps you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still hard to detect. Either way, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a powerful connection. That might have something to do with what happens when you have neglected hearing loss.

  • It becomes more difficult to understand conversations. Consequently, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You can draw away from friends, family, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. It’s not good for your brain to isolate yourself like this. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most individuals who have this kind of isolation won’t even know that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will be working harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stick with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This will really tire your brain out. The present concept is, when this takes place, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. The idea is that after a while this results in dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Your brain working so hard can also cause all manner of other symptoms, like mental fatigue and tiredness.

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

One of the major signs of dementia is hearing loss

Perhaps your hearing loss is mild. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is normal. Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.

Meaning that even minor hearing loss is a pretty good preliminary indication of a risk of dementia.

So… How should we interpret this?

Well, it’s important not to forget that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased chance of developing cognitive decline. But there could be an upside.

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

  • Set up an appointment with us to diagnose your existing hearing loss.
  • If your hearing loss is caught early, there are certain steps you can take to safeguard your hearing. For example, you could avoid noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re around anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
  • Wearing a hearing aid can help decrease the affect of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids prevent dementia? That’s hard to say, but hearing aids can boost brain function. This is the reason why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t have to work so hard to carry on discussions. Your chance of developing dementia in the future is minimized by managing hearing loss, research suggests. That’s not the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.

Other ways to lower your dementia risk

Naturally, there are other things you can do to lower your chance of cognitive decline, too. Here are a few examples:

  • Eating more healthy food, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. In some cases, medication can help here, some individuals just have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals could need medication sooner rather than later.
  • Getting adequate sleep at night is imperative. Some studies link less than four hours of sleep each night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, including your risk of developing cognitive decline (excessive alcohol use is also on this list).

Of course, scientists are still studying the link between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complex. 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. But it isn’t just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s now. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.

Missing out on the important things in life stinks. And a small amount of hearing loss management, possibly 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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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.