Your Danger of Developing Dementia Could be Decreased by Having Regular Hearing Exams

Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

What’s the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline? Medical science has connected the dots between brain health and hearing loss. It was discovered that even mild untreated hearing loss raises your risk of developing dementia.

Scientists think that there may be a pathological connection between these two seemingly unrelated health issues. So, how does loss of hearing put you at risk for dementia and how can a hearing test help fight it?

What is dementia?

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

How hearing works

The ear components are very intricate and each one matters when it comes to good hearing. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they get amplified. Inside the maze of the inner ear, little hair cells shake in response to the sound waves to transmit electrical impulses that the brain decodes.

Over time these little hairs can become irreversibly damaged from exposure to loud noise. Comprehension of sound becomes much more difficult because of the reduction of electrical impulses to the brain.

This progressive hearing loss is sometimes regarded as a normal and insignificant part of the aging process, but research suggests that’s not the case. Whether the impulses are unclear and jumbled, the brain will attempt to decode them anyway. That effort puts stress on the ear, making the individual struggling to hear more susceptible to developing cognitive decline.

Loss of hearing is a risk factor for numerous diseases that result in:

  • Reduction in alertness
  • Exhaustion
  • Overall diminished health
  • Irritability
  • Inability to master new tasks
  • Depression
  • Memory impairment

The likelihood of developing dementia can increase based on the degree of your hearing loss, too. A person with only minor hearing loss has twice the risk. More significant hearing loss means three times the danger and someone with extreme, untreated loss of hearing has up to five times the risk of developing dementia. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University watched the cognitive skills of over 2,000 older adults over a six-year period. They discovered that hearing loss significant enough to interfere with conversation was 24 percent more likely to result in memory and cognitive problems.

Why a hearing exam matters

Not everybody appreciates how even slight hearing loss impacts their overall health. Most individuals don’t even recognize they have hearing loss because it progresses so slowly. The human brain is good at adapting as hearing declines, so it’s not so noticeable.

Scheduling regular thorough assessments gives you and your hearing specialist the ability to effectively assess hearing health and monitor any decline as it occurs.

Reducing the danger with hearing aids

The current hypothesis is that stress on the brain from hearing loss plays a major part in cognitive decline and different types of dementia. Based on that one fact, you may conclude that hearing aids decrease that risk. A hearing assistance device boosts sound while filtering out background noise that disrupts your hearing and alleviates the stress on your brain. With a hearing aid, the brain won’t work so hard to understand the audio messages it’s getting.

There is no rule that says individuals with normal hearing won’t develop dementia. But scientists think hearing loss quickens that decline. Having routine hearing tests to detect and manage hearing loss before it gets too serious is key to reducing that risk.

Call us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test if you’re concerned that you might be dealing with hearing loss.

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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