Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

Dementia and hearing loss, what’s the connection? Brain health and hearing loss have a link which medical science is starting to comprehend. It was found that even mild neglected hearing impairment raises your risk of developing cognitive decline.

These two seemingly unrelated health conditions might have a pathological link. So, how does hearing loss put you in danger of dementia and how can a hearing test help fight it?

Dementia, what is it?

Dementia is a condition that diminishes memory ability, clear thinking, and socialization skills, as reported by the Mayo Clinic. Alzheimer’s is a prevalent form of cognitive decline most individuals think of when they hear the word dementia. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that affects about five million people in the U.S. Exactly how hearing health effects the danger of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.

How hearing works

In terms of good hearing, every part of the intricate ear component matters. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they get amplified. Inside the maze of the inner ear, tiny hair cells vibrate in response to the sound waves to send electrical impulses that the brain translates.

Over time, many people develop a progressive decline in their ability to hear due to years of damage to these fragile hair cells. The outcome is a decrease in the electrical impulses to the brain that makes it harder to understand sound.

This gradual hearing loss is sometimes considered a normal and insignificant part of the aging process, but research suggests that’s not accurate. The brain tries to decode any signals sent by the ear even if they are garbled or unclear. That effort puts strain on the ear, making the individual struggling to hear more susceptible to developing dementia.

Loss of hearing is a risk factor for numerous diseases that lead to:

  • Exhaustion
  • Reduction in alertness
  • Trouble learning new skills
  • Depression
  • Weak overall health
  • Irritability
  • Memory impairment

And the more extreme your hearing loss the higher your risk of cognitive decline. Even mild hearing loss can double the risk of dementia. More advanced hearing loss means three times the risk and someone with severe, untreated loss of hearing has up to five times the risk of developing cognitive decline. The cognitive skills of over 2,000 older adults were studied by Johns Hopkins University over six years. Cognitive and memory issues are 24 percent more likely in people who have hearing loss extreme enough to disrupt conversation, according to this study.

Why is a hearing test important?

Hearing loss affects the general health and that would probably surprise many people. Most individuals don’t even recognize they have hearing loss because it progresses so gradually. As hearing declines, the human brain adapts gradually so it makes it less noticeable.

Scheduling regular thorough assessments gives you and your hearing specialist the ability to correctly assess hearing health and track any decline as it happens.

Reducing the danger with hearing aids

Scientists presently believe that the relationship between dementia and hearing loss is largely based on the brain strain that hearing loss produces. So hearing aids should be capable of decreasing the risk, based on that fact. The strain on your brain will be decreased by using a hearing aid to filter out undesirable background noise while enhancing sounds you want to hear. With a hearing aid, the brain won’t work so hard to comprehend the sounds it’s getting.

Individuals who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. What science thinks is that hearing loss accelerates the decline in the brain, increasing the chances of cognitive issues. The key to reducing that risk is regular hearing tests to diagnose and manage gradual hearing loss before it can have an affect on brain health.

If you’re worried that you may be dealing with hearing loss, give us a call today to schedule your hearing assessment.

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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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