Hearing Impairment and Dementia: What’s the Link?

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.

Dementia is not a topic most people are intentionally looking to talk about, mainly because it’s pretty frightening. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you gradually (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory problems. It’s not something anyone looks forward to.

For this reason, many individuals are looking for a way to counter, or at least slow, the development of dementia. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.

That might seem a bit… surprising to you. 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?

When you disregard hearing loss, what are the repercussions?

You realize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of worries. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just put on the captions.

But then again, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still easy to ignore. Either way, hearing loss and mental decline have a solid connection. That may have something to do with what occurs when you have neglected hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes harder to understand. As a result, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You may become removed from loved ones and friends. You’ll talk to others less. This type of social isolation is, well, not good for your brain. 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 harder. Your ears will get less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This is unbelievably taxing. The present theory is, when this happens, your brain pulls power from your thinking and memory centers. It’s thought that this might hasten the onset of dementia. Your brain working so hard can also cause all manner of other symptoms, such as mental fatigue and tiredness.

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

One of the leading signs of dementia is hearing loss

Let’s say you just have mild hearing loss. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is normal. Well, even with that, your risk of developing dementia is doubled.

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

Now… What does that suggest?

We’re considering risk in this situation which is relevant to note. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it just means you have a greater risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that might actually be good news.

Your risk of dementia is lowered by successfully dealing with your hearing loss. So how do you manage your hearing loss? There are several ways:

  • The impact of hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be prevented by using hearing aids? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we recognize that brain function can be enhanced by wearing hearing aids. This is the reason why: You’ll be more socially active and your brain won’t have to work so hard to have discussions. Your chance of developing dementia in the future is decreased by treating hearing loss, research indicates. That’s not the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
  • You can take some steps to protect your hearing from further damage if you detect your hearing loss soon enough. For example, you could steer clear of noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
  • Set up an appointment with us to identify your present hearing loss.

Other ways to reduce your dementia risk

Naturally, there are other things you can do to decrease your risk of cognitive decline, too. Here are a few examples:

  • Getting sufficient sleep at night is imperative. There are studies that link fewer than four hours of sleep every night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, including your chance of developing cognitive decline (excess alcohol use is also on this list).
  • Get some exercise.
  • A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is generally healthy can go a long way. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to use medication to bring it down.

Needless to say, scientists are still researching the connection between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complicated. 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 general risk of developing dementia down the line. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely visits to the grocery store.

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.



The content of this blog is the intellectual property of MedPB.com and is reprinted here with permission. The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a hearing aid consultation, call today to schedule an appointment.