Regular Hearing Exams Could Reduce Your Risk of Developing Dementia

Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

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 neglected hearing impairment increases your risk of developing cognitive decline.

Researchers think that there might 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?

Dementia, what is it?

The Mayo Clinic reveals that dementia is a cluster of symptoms that change memory, alter the ability to think concisely, and decrease socialization skills. Alzheimer’s is a prevalent type of cognitive decline most people think of when they hear the word dementia. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that impacts about five million people in the U.S. Today, medical science has a comprehensive understanding of how ear health alters the danger of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.

How hearing works

The ear mechanisms are quite intricate and each one is important in relation to good hearing. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they’re amplified. Inside the maze of the inner ear, tiny hair cells vibrate in response to the sound waves to transmit electrical signals that the brain decodes.

Over time, many individuals develop a progressive decline in their ability to hear due to years of damage to these fragile hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes much harder because of the reduction of electrical signals to the brain.

Research reveals that this slow loss of hearing isn’t just an irrelevant part of aging. Whether the impulses are unclear and garbled, the brain will try to decode them anyway. That effort puts strain on the organ, making the person struggling to hear more vulnerable to developing cognitive decline.

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

  • Inability to master new tasks
  • Reduction in alertness
  • Irritability
  • Weak overall health
  • Exhaustion
  • Memory impairment
  • Depression

The risk of developing dementia can increase depending on the extent of your hearing loss, also. Somebody with just minor impairment has double the risk. More advanced hearing loss means three times the risk and someone with severe, untreated loss of hearing has up to five times the risk of developing dementia. The cognitive skills of over 2,000 older adults were studied by Johns Hopkins University over six years. They found that hearing loss advanced enough to interfere with conversation was 24 percent more likely to result in memory and cognitive problems.

Why a hearing assessment matters

Not everyone appreciates how even slight hearing loss affects their general health. Most people don’t even recognize they have hearing loss because it develops so slowly. As hearing declines, the human brain adjusts gradually so it makes it less obvious.

Scheduling regular thorough exams gives you and your hearing specialist the ability to effectively evaluate hearing health and track any decline as it happens.

Using hearing aids to decrease the danger

The present theory is that stress on the brain from hearing loss plays a major role in cognitive decline and different types of dementia. Based on that one fact, you may conclude that hearing aids reduce that risk. The strain on your brain will be reduced by using a hearing aid to filter out undesirable background noise while boosting sounds you want to hear. The sounds that you’re hearing will get through without as much effort.

People who have normal hearing can still possibly get dementia. But scientists believe hearing loss quickens that decline. The key to reducing that risk is routine hearing tests to diagnose and manage gradual hearing loss before it can have an impact on brain health.

If you’re worried that you may be dealing with hearing loss, contact us today to schedule your hearing examination.

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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