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Hearing test showing ear of senior man with sound waves simulation technology

Want to take all the fun out of your next family get-together? Start talking about dementia.

The subject of dementia can be really scary and most individuals aren’t going to purposely discuss it. A degenerative mental disease in which you gradually (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory problems. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.

So preventing or at least slowing dementia is important for many individuals. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have several fairly clear connections and correlations.

You might be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, it turns out)? Why does hearing loss increase chances of dementia?

What happens when your hearing loss is neglected?

You recognize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of concerns. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your television won’t fix, right? Maybe you’ll just turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.

Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unobserved so far. Maybe the signs are still easy to disregard. Mental decline and hearing loss are firmly connected either way. That might have something to do with what happens when you have neglected hearing loss.

  • It becomes harder to understand conversations. You could begin to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You might become distant from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with others as much. It’s not good for your brain to isolate yourself this way. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most people who have this kind of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will be working overtime. Your ears will collect less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. This will leave your brain filling in the missing gaps. This is extremely taxing. The current theory is, when this happens, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. It’s thought that this could speed up the onset of dementia. Mental stress and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the consequence of your brain having to work so hard.

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

One of the leading indicators of dementia is hearing loss

Maybe your hearing loss is slight. Whispers may get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, even with that, your risk of developing dementia is doubled.

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

Now… What does that suggest?

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 result in dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But there may be an upside.

Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you decrease your risk of cognitive decline. So how can hearing loss be managed? Here are several ways:

  • The affect of hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be avoided by wearing hearing aids? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can improve brain function. This is the reason why: You’ll be capable of participating in more conversations, your brain won’t need to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more socially connected. Research implies that treating hearing loss can help minimize your risk of developing dementia when you get older. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.
  • Schedule an appointment with us to identify your current hearing loss.
  • If your hearing loss is detected early, there are some steps you can take to protect your hearing. As an example, you could steer clear of noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).

Other ways to reduce your dementia risk

You can reduce your risk of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. This could include:

  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will increase your risk of dementia and will impact your overall health (excess alcohol use can also go on this list).
  • Be sure you get plenty of sleep every night. Some research links a higher chance of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep per night.
  • A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. In some cases, medication can help here, some people just have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals may need medication sooner than later.
  • Exercise is necessary for good general health and that includes hearing health.

Needless to say, scientists are still studying the link between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complicated. But the lower your risk, the better.

Hearing is its own benefit

So, hearing better will help decrease your general danger of developing cognitive decline in the future. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.

It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to manage your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be a big help.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!

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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.