What’s the Link Between Hearing Impairment and Dementia?

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

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

Dementia is not a subject most individuals are actively looking to talk about, mostly because it’s pretty frightening. 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 problems. It’s not something anybody looks forward to.

For this reason, many people are looking for a way to counter, or at least delay, the advancement of dementia. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.

You might be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, it turns out)? Why are the dangers of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?

What occurs when your hearing loss goes untreated?

Maybe you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you’re not that concerned about it. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just put on the captions.

Or maybe your hearing loss has gone undetected so far. Maybe the signs are still subtle. Cognitive decline and hearing loss are clearly connected either way. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.

  • It becomes more difficult to understand conversations. You could start to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You can draw away from friends, family, and loved ones. You won’t talk with others as often. This type of social separation is, well, not good for your brain. 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 most likely won’t connect 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 stay with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This is unbelievably taxing. The present theory is, when this occurs, your brain pulls power from your thought and memory centers. The thinking 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, such as mental fatigue and tiredness.

So your hearing loss is not quite as harmless as you may have believed.

Hearing loss is one of the primary indicators of dementia

Maybe your hearing loss is slight. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else is just fine. Well, even with that, your chance of developing dementia is doubled.

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

So… How should we understand 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 isn’t any guarantee it will lead to dementia. Instead, it just means you have a higher chance of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But there might be an upside.

Your risk of dementia is lowered by successfully dealing with your hearing loss. So how do you manage your hearing loss? Here are several ways:

  • Make an appointment with us to identify your current hearing loss.
  • The affect of hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be stopped by wearing hearing aids? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we know that brain function can be enhanced by wearing hearing aids. This is why: You’ll be more socially active and your brain won’t have to work so hard to have discussions. Research implies that treating hearing loss can help minimize your risk of developing dementia in the future. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
  • You can take some measures to safeguard your hearing from further harm if you detect your hearing loss early enough. You could, for instance, use hearing protection if you work in a loud setting and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.

Lowering your risk of dementia – other methods

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

  • Getting enough sleep at night is essential. Some research links a higher risk of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep every night.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, including your risk of experiencing cognitive decline (excess alcohol drinking is also on this list).
  • 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 may be necessary to take medication to bring it down.
  • Exercise is necessary for good general health including hearing health.

Needless to say, scientists are still researching the connection between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complicated. But any way you can lower your risk is good.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

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

Losing out on the important things in life is no fun. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, maybe by using hearing aids, can be a big help.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!



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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