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 most likely put a dark cloud above the entire event.

The topic of dementia can be really scary and most individuals aren’t going to go out of their way to talk about it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, 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.

For this reason, many individuals are seeking a way to counter, or at least slow, the advancement of dementia. There are some 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 (a lot, it turns out)? Why are the dangers of dementia increased with hearing loss?

What takes place when your hearing loss goes untreated?

You recognize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of worries. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just turn on the captions.

But then again, perhaps you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still hard to detect. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a powerful correlation. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.

  • It becomes harder to understand conversations. As a result, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You might become distant from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with people as much. This kind of social isolation is, well, bad for your brain. And naturally your social life. Further, most people who have this sort of isolation won’t even know that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will be working overtime. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This will really tire your brain out. The current theory is, when this happens, your brain pulls power from your thought and memory centers. It’s thought that this could speed up the onset of dementia. Your brain working so hard can also result in all kinds of other symptoms, such as mental stress and tiredness.

So your hearing loss isn’t quite as harmless as you might have thought.

Hearing loss is one of the major signs of dementia

Let’s say you only have mild hearing impairment. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is normal. Well, even with that, your chance of getting dementia is doubled.

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

So… How should we understand this?

Well, it’s essential to remember that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will lead to dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a greater risk of developing cognitive decline. But there might be an upside.

Because it means that effectively managing your hearing loss can help you lower your chance of dementia. So how do you manage your hearing loss? There are several ways:

  • If your hearing loss is caught early, there are certain measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. As an example, you could avoid noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
  • The impact of hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be avoided by wearing hearing aids? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be improved by using hearing aids. This is why: You’ll be capable of participating in more discussions, your brain won’t have to work so hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Your risk of developing dementia later in life is minimized by treating hearing loss, research suggests. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.
  • Come see us so we can help you diagnose any hearing loss you might have.

Other ways to decrease your dementia risk

Naturally, there are other things you can do to lower your risk of cognitive decline, too. This might include:

  • 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 individuals could need medication sooner than later.
  • Getting enough sleep at night is crucial. Some studies have linked a higher chance of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep each night.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Quit smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your chance of cognitive decline as well as impacting your overall health (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).

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

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, over time, hearing better will reduce your general risk of cognitive decline. But it’s not just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s today. 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 a little bit of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!

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