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.

The subject of dementia can be very frightening and most people aren’t going to go out of their way to talk about it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, makes you lose a grip on reality, experience loss of memory, and brings about a general loss of mental function. No one wants to experience that.

So stopping or at least slowing dementia is a priority for many people. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have several pretty clear connections and correlations.

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

What occurs when your hearing loss is neglected?

Perhaps you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you aren’t that worried about it. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your tv won’t fix, right? Maybe you’ll just put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite program.

But then again, perhaps you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still easy to ignore. In either case, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a powerful connection. That could have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. Consequently, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You may become removed from loved ones and friends. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself like this. And naturally your social life. Further, most individuals who have this kind of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will begin to work a lot harder. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stay with us). Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This will really tire your brain out. The current concept is, when this happens, your brain draws power from your thinking and memory centers. It’s believed that this could speed up the development of cognitive decline. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the result of your brain having to work so hard.

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

Hearing loss is one of the primary indicators of dementia

Perhaps your hearing loss is slight. Whispers might get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, even with that, your chance of developing dementia is doubled.

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

Now… What does that suggest?

We’re looking at risk in this circumstance which is relevant to note. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there isn’t any guarantee it will result in dementia. Rather, it just means you have a higher chance of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But there might be an upside.

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

  • Set up an appointment with us to identify your existing hearing loss.
  • If your hearing loss is detected early, there are some steps you can take to safeguard your hearing. You could, for instance, use ear protection if you work in a noisy environment and steer clear of noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.
  • Using a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids prevent dementia? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be able to participate in more discussions, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially involved. Research indicates that managing hearing loss can help decrease your danger of developing dementia when you get older. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.

Other ways to reduce your dementia risk

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

  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will raise your risk of dementia as well as impacting your overall health (excessive alcohol use is also on this list).
  • Getting adequate sleep at night is essential. Some research links a higher chance of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep each night.
  • A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to use medication to bring it down.
  • Get some exercise.

Needless to say, scientists are still studying the link between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complex disease with an array of causes. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.

Hearing is its own benefit

So, over time, hearing better will decrease your general risk of cognitive decline. But it’s not only your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s now. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.

Missing out on the important things in life is no fun. And taking steps to deal with your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!

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