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

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

The subject of dementia can be very frightening and most people aren’t going to go out of their way to discuss it. A degenerative mental disease in which you gradually (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory issues. Nobody wants to experience that.

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

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

What happens when your hearing impairment goes untreated?

You recognize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of concerns. You can just crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just put on the captions.

On the other hand, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still easy to dismiss. Cognitive decline and hearing loss are clearly linked either way. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could start to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You might become removed from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with people as much. It’s not good for your brain to isolate yourself this way. It’s not good for your social life either. Additionally, many people who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they likely won’t attribute their solitude to their hearing.
  • Your brain will start to work a lot 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 tire your brain out. The present theory is, when this happens, your brain draws power from your thinking and memory centers. It’s thought that this might speed up the development of dementia. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the outcome of your brain needing to work so hard.

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

Let’s say you only have mild hearing impairment. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else is just fine. Well, turns out you’re still two times as likely to develop dementia as somebody who does not have hearing loss.

Which means that even minor hearing loss is a fairly strong preliminary indication of a risk of dementia.

Now… What does that suggest?

We’re considering risk in this situation which is relevant to note. Hearing loss is not 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 there could be an upside.

Your risk of dementia is decreased by effectively dealing with your hearing loss. So how do you deal with your hearing loss? Here are several ways:

  • Come see us so we can help you identify any hearing loss you may have.
  • Wearing a hearing aid can help reduce the affect of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids stop dementia? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we know that brain function can be enhanced by wearing hearing aids. This is the reason why: You’ll be capable of participating in more conversations, your brain won’t need to work so hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially connected. Research suggests that treating hearing loss can help reduce your risk of developing dementia when you get older. 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 safeguard your hearing. As an example, you could steer clear of noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).

Other ways to decrease your dementia risk

You can decrease your risk of dementia by doing some other things too, of course. Here are a few examples:

  • A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure 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 people may need medication sooner than later.
  • Getting sufficient sleep at night is imperative. Some studies link fewer than four hours of sleep every night to a higher risk of dementia.
  • Quit smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your risk of cognitive decline as well as impacting your general health (excessive alcohol drinking is also on this list).
  • Exercise is needed for good general health including hearing health.

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

Hearing is its own benefit

So, hearing better will help decrease your overall danger of developing cognitive decline down the line. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely visits to the grocery store.

It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And a little bit of hearing loss management, maybe in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.

So call us today for an appointment.

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