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

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

Dementia is not a topic most people are actively seeking to talk about, mostly because it’s rather frightening. 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 isn’t something anybody looks forward to.

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

That may seem a bit… surprising to you. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss raise chances of dementia?

What happens when your hearing impairment goes untreated?

Maybe you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you aren’t too worried about it. It’s nothing that turning up the volume on your television won’t solve, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just put on the captions.

Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unnoticed so far. Perhaps the signs are still easy to dismiss. Cognitive decline and hearing impairment are clearly connected either way. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.

  • It becomes harder to understand conversations. Consequently, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You can withdraw from family, friends, and loved ones. You speak to others less. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself this way. It’s not good for your social life either. What’s more, many individuals who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even recognize it’s happening, and they likely won’t connect their solitude to their hearing.
  • Your brain will be working harder. Your ears will collect less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This is incredibly taxing. Your brain will then have to get additional power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the present concept). The thinking is that over time this results in dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Mental stress and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the consequence of your brain needing to work so hard.

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

Hearing loss is one of the leading signs of dementia

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

So one of the preliminary signs of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.

Now… What does that suggest?

Well, it’s essential not to forget that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it simply means you have a higher chance of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that can actually be good news.

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

  • You can take a few measures to safeguard your hearing from further damage if you detect your hearing loss early enough. You could, for instance, use hearing protection if you work in a noisy environment and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
  • Come in and see us so we can help you determine any hearing loss you may have.
  • The affect of hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids prevent cognitive decline? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we know that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t need to work so hard to have discussions. Research suggests that managing hearing loss can help minimize your risk of developing dementia when you get older. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.

Lowering your chance of dementia – other strategies

Naturally, there are other things you can do to decrease your risk of dementia, too. Here are some examples:

  • Getting sufficient sleep at night is crucial. There are studies that link less than four hours of sleep each night to a higher risk of dementia.
  • A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is generally healthy can go a long way. Sometimes, medication can help here, some people just have naturally higher blood pressure; those people could need medication sooner than later.
  • Stop smoking. Seriously. Smoking will raise your risk of cognitive decline and will impact your general health (excess alcohol use is also on this list).
  • Exercise is necessary for good overall health including hearing health.

Of course, scientists are still researching the connection 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.

Hearing is its own benefit

So, hearing better will help lower your overall risk of developing dementia in the future. But it’s not only 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.

Losing out on the important things in life stinks. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, maybe by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.

So call us today for an appointment.

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