What’s the connection between hearing loss and dementia? Medical science has found a connection between brain health and hearing loss. It was found that even mild untreated hearing impairment raises your risk of developing dementia.
These two seemingly unrelated health disorders might have a pathological connection. So how can a hearing exam help reduce the risk of hearing loss related dementia?
What is dementia?
Dementia is a condition that diminishes memory ability, clear thinking, and socialization skills, as reported by the Mayo Clinic. People often think of Alzheimer’s disease when they hear dementia most likely because it is a common form. Around five million people in the US are affected by this progressive type of dementia. Today, medical science has a comprehensive understanding of how ear health alters the danger of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.
How hearing works
In terms of good hearing, every part of the intricate ear component matters. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they get amplified. Electrical impulses are transmitted to the brain for decoding by tiny little hairs in the inner ear that vibrate in response to sound waves.
Over time, many individuals develop a gradual decline in their ability to hear because of years of trauma to these fragile hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes a lot more difficult due to the decrease of electrical impulses to the brain.
Research reveals that this gradual loss of hearing isn’t just an irrelevant part of aging. Whether the impulses are unclear and jumbled, the brain will try to decode them anyway. That effort puts strain on the organ, making the individual struggling to hear more susceptible to developing dementia.
Here are several disease risk factors with hearing loss in common:
- Impaired memory
- Weak overall health
- Reduction in alertness
- Trouble learning new skills
The likelihood of developing cognitive decline can increase depending on the severity of your hearing loss, too. Even mild hearing loss can double the odds of dementia. Hearing loss that is more significant will raise the risk by three times and extremely severe neglected hearing loss can put you at up to a five times higher risk. The cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults were studied by Johns Hopkins University over six years. They revealed that hearing loss advanced enough to hinder conversation was 24 percent more likely to result in memory and cognitive problems.
Why a hearing exam matters
Hearing loss impacts the general health and that would most likely surprise many individuals. Most people don’t even recognize they have hearing loss because it develops so gradually. As hearing declines, the human brain adjusts gradually so it makes it less obvious.
We will be able to properly assess your hearing health and monitor any changes as they occur with regular hearing exams.
Minimizing the risk with hearing aids
The present theory is that strain on the brain from hearing loss plays a big part in cognitive decline and different types of dementia. Based on that one fact, you could conclude that hearing aids reduce that risk. A hearing assistance device boosts sound while filtering out background noise that impedes your hearing and relieves the stress on your brain. The sounds that you’re hearing will come through without as much effort.
Individuals who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. But scientists think hearing loss speeds up that decline. Having routine hearing exams to diagnose and treat hearing loss before it gets too extreme is key to reducing that risk.
If you’re worried that you may be dealing with hearing loss, call us today to schedule your hearing evaluation.