If you begin talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will most likely put a dark cloud above the whole event.
Dementia isn’t a subject most individuals are intentionally looking to discuss, mostly because it’s pretty scary. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, makes you lose a grip on reality, experience memory loss, and brings about a general loss of mental faculties. Nobody wants to experience that.
For this reason, many individuals are looking for a way to prevent, or at least slow, the advancement of dementia. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and untreated hearing loss.>
That might seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, actually)? Why does hearing loss increase chances of dementia?>
When you ignore hearing loss, what are the consequences?
Perhaps you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you aren’t too worried about it. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your television won’t fix, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just turn on the captions.
Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone unnoticed so far. Maybe the signs are still subtle. In either case, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a powerful connection. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. You could begin to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You may become removed from loved ones and friends. You speak to others less. It’s not good for your brain to separate yourself this way. And naturally your social life. What’s more, many individuals who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even recognize it’s happening, and they most likely won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
- Your brain will begin to work a lot harder. Your ears will get less audio information when you have untreated hearing loss. This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then have to get additional power from your memory and thinking centers (at least that’s the present concept). The idea is that over time this leads to dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Your brain working so hard can also result in all manner of other symptoms, such as mental fatigue and exhaustion.
You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it really is.
Hearing loss is one of the major signs of dementia
Let’s say you only have mild hearing impairment. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else sounds just fine. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to develop dementia as somebody who does not have hearing loss.
Which means that even minor hearing loss is a pretty good preliminary sign of a risk of dementia.
So… How should we understand this?
Well, it’s important not to forget that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Instead, it simply means you have a greater risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But there could be an upside.
Because it means that effectively managing your hearing loss can help you lower your chance of dementia. So how can hearing loss be addressed? There are numerous ways:
- The impact of hearing loss can be minimized by wearing hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids stop dementia? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we recognize that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be able to participate in more discussions, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially involved. Your chance of developing dementia later in life is decreased by treating hearing loss, research implies. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
- Come see us so we can help you identify any hearing loss you might have.
- If your hearing loss is detected early, there are certain steps you can take to safeguard your hearing. For example, you could avoid noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re near anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
Other ways to reduce your dementia risk
Naturally, there are other things you can do to reduce your risk of cognitive decline, too. Here are some examples:
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep each night. Some studies link fewer than four hours of sleep every night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
- A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is generally healthy can go a long way. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to use medication to bring it down.
- Exercise is needed for good overall health including hearing health.
- Stop smoking. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, including your risk of experiencing dementia (excess alcohol drinking is also on this list).
Needless to say, scientists are still researching the link between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. There are so many causes that make this disease so complicated. But the lower your risk, the better.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, over time, hearing better will reduce your general risk of cognitive decline. You’ll be bettering your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.
Missing out on the important things in life is no fun. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.
So call us today for an appointment.