Cognitive decline and hearing loss, what’s the link? Brain health and hearing loss have a link which medical science is beginning to understand. Your risk of getting cognitive decline is higher with even mild hearing loss, as it turns out.
Experts believe that there might be a pathological connection between these two seemingly unrelated health problems. So, how does hearing loss put you in danger of dementia and how can a hearing exam help fight it?
What is dementia?
Dementia is a condition that decreases memory ability, clear thinking, and socialization skills, as reported by the Mayo Clinic. Alzheimer’s is a prevalent type of cognitive decline the majority of people think of when they hear the word dementia. Around five million people in the US are affected by this progressive kind of dementia. Precisely how hearing health impacts the danger of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.
How hearing works
When it comes to good hearing, every part of the complex ear component matters. As waves of sound vibration move 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 decodes.
As time passes, many people develop a gradual decline in their ability to hear because of years of trauma to these fragile hair cells. The outcome is a reduction in the electrical impulses to the brain that makes it harder to comprehend sound.
Research suggests that this gradual loss of hearing isn’t only an irrelevant part of aging. The brain tries to decode any messages sent by the ear even if they are garbled or unclear. That effort puts strain on the organ, making the individual struggling to hear more vulnerable to developing dementia.
Loss of hearing is a risk factor for numerous diseases that lead to:
- Inability to master new tasks
- Weak overall health
- Impaired memory
- Reduction in alertness
And the more extreme your hearing loss the higher your risk of dementia. Even slight hearing loss can double the danger of dementia. Hearing loss that is more significant will raise the risk by three times and very severe untreated hearing loss can put you at up to a five times higher danger. Research by Johns Hopkins University monitored the cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults over a six-year period. Memory and cognitive issues are 24 percent more likely in individuals who have hearing loss extreme enough to disrupt conversation, according to this study.
Why is a hearing test important?
Hearing loss impacts the overall health and that would most likely surprise many individuals. For most people, the decline is slow so they don’t always realize there is a problem. The human brain is good at adjusting as hearing declines, so it’s less obvious.
We will be able to effectively evaluate your hearing health and monitor any changes as they happen with routine hearing exams.
Using hearing aids to reduce the risk
The current theory is that strain on the brain from hearing loss plays a major role in cognitive decline and different types of dementia. So hearing aids should be able to reduce the risk, based on that fact. The stress on your brain will be reduced by using a hearing aid to filter out undesirable background noise while enhancing sounds you want to hear. With a hearing aid, the brain will not work so hard to comprehend the sounds it’s receiving.
People who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. What science thinks is that hearing loss quickens the decline in the brain, raising the chances of cognitive problems. The key to reducing that risk is regular hearing exams to diagnose and treat gradual hearing loss before it can have an affect on brain health.
Contact us today to make an appointment for a hearing test if you’re worried that you may be coping with hearing loss.