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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 over the whole event.

Dementia isn’t a subject most people are actively seeking to discuss, mostly because it’s pretty frightening. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you gradually (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory problems. It’s not something anybody looks forward to.

So stopping or at least slowing dementia is a priority for many individuals. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and untreated hearing loss.

That might seem a bit… surprising to you. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why are the risks of dementia increased with hearing loss?

What happens when your hearing loss goes untreated?

Maybe you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you’re not too worried about it. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your television won’t fix, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just turn on the captions.

Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unobserved so far. Maybe the signs are still hard to detect. Mental decline and hearing loss are firmly linked either way. That could have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others because of this. You can draw away from friends, family, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself like this. It’s not good for your social life either. Additionally, many people who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they likely won’t connect their solitude to their hearing.
  • Your brain will be working harder. Your ears will get less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. As a result, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This is incredibly taxing. Your brain will then need to get additional energy from your memory and thinking centers (at least that’s the current theory). It’s believed that this may speed up the onset of dementia. Your brain working so hard can also result in all kinds of other symptoms, like mental fatigue and exhaustion.

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

Hearing loss is one of the leading signs of dementia

Let’s say you have only slight hearing impairment. Whispers might get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.

So one of the initial signs of dementia can be even mild hearing loss.

So… How should we understand this?

We’re looking at risk in this circumstance which is important to note. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will lead to dementia. Rather, it just means you have a greater chance of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that could actually be good news.

Your risk of cognitive decline is lowered by effectively managing your hearing loss. So how can you manage your hearing loss? Here are several ways:

  • If your hearing loss is detected early, there are certain steps you can take to protect your hearing. You could, for instance, use hearing protection if you work in a loud environment and steer clear of noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.
  • Come in and see us so we can help you determine any hearing loss you may have.
  • Using a hearing aid can help minimize the affect of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids stop cognitive decline? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can improve brain function. This is why: You’ll be able to participate in more discussions, your brain won’t need to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Research suggests that managing hearing loss can help reduce your danger of developing dementia when you get older. That isn’t the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.

Other ways to reduce your dementia risk

Of course, there are other things you can do to reduce your risk of dementia, too. Here are some examples:

  • Quit smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your chance of dementia as well as impacting your general health (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
  • Get some exercise.
  • Be sure you get enough sleep every night. Some studies have linked a higher risk of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep per night.
  • Eating more healthy food, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. Sometimes, medication can help here, some people simply have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals may need medication sooner than later.

The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being examined by scientists. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But the lower your risk, the better.

Hearing is its own benefit

So, over time, hearing better will decrease your general risk of dementia. You’ll be bettering your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.

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

So call us today for an appointment.

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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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