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

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

Dementia isn’t a subject most individuals are intentionally looking to discuss, mostly because it’s pretty frightening. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, causes you to lose touch with reality, experience memory loss, and causes an over-all loss of mental faculties. It’s not something anyone looks forward to.

For this reason, many people are looking for a way to counter, or at least slow, the advancement of dementia. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have some pretty clear connections and correlations.

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

When you ignore hearing loss, what are the repercussions?

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

Or maybe your hearing loss has gone undetected so far. Perhaps the signs are still easy to dismiss. Mental decline and hearing impairment are clearly linked either way. That might have something to do with what occurs when you have neglected hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes harder to understand. Consequently, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You may become removed from loved ones and friends. You speak to others less. It’s not good for your brain to isolate yourself this way. And naturally your social life. What’s more, many individuals who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even recognize it’s happening, and they most likely won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
  • Your brain will start to work much harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stick with us). As a result, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This is extremely taxing. Your brain will then have to get additional energy from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the present theory). The idea is that over time this contributes to dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Your brain working so hard can also cause all kinds of other symptoms, like mental stress and tiredness.

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

One of the principal indicators of dementia is hearing loss

Perhaps your hearing loss is slight. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else sounds normal. Well, turns out you’re still two times as likely to develop dementia as somebody who doesn’t have hearing loss.

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

Now… What does that suggest?

We’re looking at risk in this circumstance which is important to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a higher risk of developing cognitive decline. But there could be an upside.

Because it means that effectively managing your hearing loss can help you decrease your chance of cognitive decline. So how can you deal with your hearing loss? Here are several ways:

  • Come in and see us so we can help you determine any hearing loss you may have.
  • Wearing a hearing aid can help decrease the affect of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids prevent cognitive decline? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we recognize that brain function can be enhanced by wearing hearing aids. This is why: You’ll be more socially active and your brain won’t need to work so hard to carry on discussions. Your chance of developing dementia later in life is reduced by treating hearing loss, research implies. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.
  • If your hearing loss is caught early, there are some steps you can take to protect your hearing. You could, for instance, use ear protection if you work in a noisy setting and avoid noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.

Lowering your chance of dementia – other strategies

You can reduce your risk of dementia by doing some other things too, of course. This might include:

  • 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 individuals just have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals may need medication sooner than later.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, including your risk of developing dementia (excess alcohol drinking is also on this list).
  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep each night. Some research links a higher chance of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep every night.
  • Get some exercise.

Needless to say, scientists are still researching the link between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. There are so many 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 general danger of developing cognitive decline in the future. You’ll be bettering your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely visits to the grocery store.

It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to deal with your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be a big help.

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.