What’s the Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

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

Want to take all the fun out of your next family gathering? Start talking about dementia.

Dementia is not a subject most people are actively seeking to talk about, mostly because it’s pretty frightening. A degenerative mental disease in which you slowly (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory loss. It’s not something anybody looks forward to.

So preventing or at least delaying dementia is important for many people. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.

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

What takes place when your hearing impairment is neglected?

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

But then again, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still easy to disregard. Either way, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a powerful connection. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You can withdraw from friends, family, and loved ones. You speak to others less. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself like this. Not to mention your social life. Further, most individuals who have this type of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will begin to work much 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 gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then have to get extra energy from your memory and thinking centers (at least that’s the current concept). The thinking is that over time this leads to dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Your brain working so hard can also cause all manner of other symptoms, such as mental fatigue and exhaustion.

You might have thought that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it really is.

One of the principal indicators of dementia is hearing loss

Let’s say you just have slight hearing loss. 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 someone who doesn’t have hearing loss.

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

So… How should we understand this?

Well, it’s important to remember that we’re dealing with risk here. 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 an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But that can actually be good news.

Your risk of dementia is reduced by effectively dealing with your hearing loss. So how can hearing loss be controlled? Here are several ways:

  • If your hearing loss is detected early, there are some measures you can take to protect your hearing. For example, you could avoid noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re near anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
  • Using a hearing aid can help reduce the affect of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids stop dementia? That’s difficult to say, but hearing aids can boost brain function. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be more socially involved 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 suggests. That’s not the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
  • Schedule an appointment with us to diagnose your present hearing loss.

Other ways to lower your dementia risk

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

  • Exercise is necessary for good overall health and that includes hearing health.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will increase your risk of dementia and will impact your general health (excessive alcohol drinking can also go on this list).
  • Make sure you get enough sleep every night. There are studies that link fewer than four hours of sleep each night to a higher risk of dementia.
  • A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is generally healthy can go a long way. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to take medication to bring it down.

The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being studied by scientists. It’s a complex disease with a matrix of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.

Hearing is its own benefit

So, hearing better will help lower your general danger of developing dementia down the line. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.

It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to manage your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.

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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