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

Want to suck all the joy out of your next family gathering? Start to talk about dementia.

The topic of dementia can be very scary and most individuals aren’t going to go out of their way to discuss it. A degenerative mental disease in which you gradually (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory loss. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.

This is why many individuals are seeking a way to counter, or at least delay, the development of dementia. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and untreated hearing loss.

You may be surprised by that. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss increase chances of dementia?

What takes place when your hearing loss goes untreated?

Maybe you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you aren’t that concerned about it. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your television won’t fix, right? Maybe you’ll simply turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite program.

But then again, perhaps you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still easy to ignore. Cognitive decline and hearing impairment are clearly linked either way. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.

  • It becomes harder to understand conversations. Consequently, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You may become distant from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with others as often. It’s not good for your brain to isolate yourself like this. And naturally your social life. What’s more, many people who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even recognize it’s happening, and they probably won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
  • Your brain will begin to work much harder. Your ears will get less audio information when you have untreated hearing loss. As a result, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then have to get extra energy from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the current concept). The idea is that over time this leads to dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Your brain working so hard can also cause all manner of other symptoms, such as mental stress and tiredness.

You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more harmless than it actually is.

Hearing loss is one of the primary indicators of dementia

Perhaps your hearing loss is slight. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is normal. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to get dementia as somebody who doesn’t have hearing loss.

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

Now… What does that suggest?

We’re considering risk in this situation which is relevant to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it simply means you have a higher risk of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But there may be an upside.

Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by effectively dealing with your hearing loss. So how can hearing loss be addressed? Here are several ways:

  • You can take some measures to protect your hearing from further harm if you catch your hearing loss soon enough. You could, for instance, wear ear protection if you work in a loud setting and steer clear of noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.
  • Come see us so we can help you diagnose any hearing loss you might have.
  • Wearing a hearing aid can help decrease the impact of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids stop dementia? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. Here’s why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t need to work so hard to have conversations. Your risk of developing dementia later in life is reduced by managing hearing loss, research suggests. That’s not the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.

Lowering your chance of dementia – other strategies

Naturally, there are other things you can do to decrease your chance of dementia, too. This might include:

  • Make sure you get enough sleep each night. Some studies have linked an increased chance of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep each night.
  • Eating more healthy food, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to use medication to bring it down.
  • Exercise is necessary for good overall health and that includes hearing health.
  • Stop smoking. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, and that includes your chance of developing dementia (excessive alcohol use can also go on this list).

The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, hearing better will help reduce your overall danger of developing cognitive decline in the future. But it’s not just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s now. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.

Missing out on the important things in life is no fun. And a little bit of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!

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