Dementia and hearing loss, what’s the connection? Brain health and hearing loss have a connection which medical science is beginning to comprehend. It was discovered that even minor untreated hearing impairment raises your risk of developing cognitive decline.
These two seemingly unrelated health disorders could have a pathological connection. So, how does loss of hearing put you in danger of dementia and how can a hearing test help combat it?
Dementia, what is it?
The Mayo Clinic says that dementia is a cluster of symptoms that change memory, alter the ability to think concisely, and reduce socialization skills. Individuals tend to 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 impacted by this progressive kind of dementia. These days, medical science has a comprehensive understanding of how ear health alters the risk of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.
How hearing works
When it comes to good hearing, every part of the intricate ear component matters. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they get amplified. Electrical signals are transmitted to the brain for decoding by tiny little hairs in the inner ear that shake in response to waves of sound.
Over the years these little hairs can become irreversibly damaged from exposure to loud noise. Comprehension of sound becomes a lot harder due to the reduction of electrical signals to the brain.
Research suggests that this slow loss of hearing isn’t just an irrelevant part of aging. Whether the signals are unclear and jumbled, the brain will try to decipher them anyway. That effort puts stress on the organ, making the individual struggling to hear more vulnerable to developing cognitive decline.
Loss of hearing is a risk factor for lots of diseases that result in:
- Trouble learning new skills
- Memory impairment
- Reduction in alertness
- Weak overall health
The likelihood of developing dementia can increase depending on the degree of your hearing loss, also. Even minor hearing loss can double the danger of cognitive decline. Hearing loss that is more severe will raise the risk by three times and very severe untreated hearing loss can put you at up to a five times greater risk. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University monitored the cognitive skills of over 2,000 older adults over a six-year period. Cognitive and memory problems are 24 percent more likely in people who have hearing loss extreme enough to disrupt conversation, according to this study.
Why a hearing test matters
Not everyone appreciates how even slight hearing loss affects their general health. Most individuals don’t even know they have hearing loss because it develops so gradually. The human brain is good at adjusting as hearing declines, so it is less noticeable.
Scheduling regular thorough assessments gives you and your hearing specialist the ability to effectively assess hearing health and track any decline as it takes place.
Using hearing aids to reduce the danger
Scientists currently think that the link between dementia and hearing loss is largely based on the brain strain that hearing loss produces. Based on that one fact, you might conclude that hearing aids reduce that risk. A hearing assistance device boosts sound while filtering out background noise that interferes with your hearing and alleviates the stress on your brain. With a hearing aid, the brain won’t work as hard to comprehend the audio messages it’s receiving.
There’s no rule that says individuals who have normal hearing won’t develop dementia. What science believes is that hearing loss quickens the decline in the brain, raising the chances of cognitive problems. The key to decreasing that risk is routine hearing exams to diagnose and treat gradual hearing loss before it can have an affect on brain health.
Call us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test if you’re concerned that you may be dealing with hearing loss.