What’s the connection between hearing loss and dementia? Brain health and hearing loss have a connection which medical science is starting to comprehend. It was found that even minor untreated hearing loss increases your risk of developing dementia.
Experts think that there might be a pathological link between these two seemingly unrelated health problems. So how can a hearing exam help reduce the danger of hearing loss related dementia?
What is dementia?
The Mayo Clinic says that dementia is a cluster of symptoms that alter memory, alter the ability to think clearly, and decrease socialization skills. Individuals tend to think of Alzheimer’s disease when they hear dementia probably because it is a prevalent form. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that impacts around five million people in the U.S. These days, medical science has a complete 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 complex ear component matters. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they’re amplified. Electrical impulses are transmitted to the brain for decoding by tiny little hairs in the inner ear that vibrate in response to waves of sound.
Over time, many individuals develop a progressive decline in their ability to hear because of years of damage to these fragile hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes much more difficult due to the reduction of electrical signals to the brain.
Research reveals that this slow loss of hearing isn’t only an inconsequential part of aging. The brain attempts to decode any messages sent by the ear even if they are garbled or unclear. That effort puts strain on the ear, making the individual struggling to hear more susceptible to developing cognitive decline.
Here are several disease risk factors that have hearing loss in common:
- Inability to master new tasks
- Memory impairment
- Overall diminished health
- Reduction in alertness
The risk of developing dementia can increase based on the degree of your hearing loss, too. Even minor hearing loss can double the danger of dementia. Hearing loss that is more severe will bring the risk up by three times and very severe neglected hearing loss can put you at up to a five times greater risk. The cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults were observed by Johns Hopkins University over six years. They revealed that hearing loss significant enough to hinder conversation was 24 percent more likely to cause memory and cognitive issues.
Why a hearing assessment matters
Not everybody understands how even slight hearing loss impacts their overall health. Most individuals don’t even realize they have hearing loss because it develops so gradually. The human brain is good at adapting as hearing declines, so it’s not so noticeable.
We will be able to effectively evaluate your hearing health and monitor any changes as they happen with routine hearing exams.
Using hearing aids to reduce the danger
Scientists presently think that the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss is largely based on the brain strain that hearing loss produces. So hearing aids should be able to reduce the risk, based on that fact. A hearing assistance device amplifies sound while filtering out background noise that disrupts your hearing and alleviates the strain on your brain. With a hearing aid, the brain won’t work as hard to understand the audio messages it’s receiving.
Individuals who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. But scientists think hearing loss speeds up that decline. The key to decreasing that risk is regular hearing tests to diagnose and manage gradual hearing loss before it can have an affect on brain health.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing exam if you’re worried that you might be dealing with hearing loss.