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Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

Dementia and hearing loss, what’s the connection? 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.

Scientists think that there might be a pathological connection between these two seemingly unrelated health problems. So, how does loss of hearing put you in danger of dementia and how can a hearing exam help combat it?

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. About five million people in the US are impacted by this progressive type of dementia. Exactly how hearing health impacts the danger of dementia is finally well understood by scientists.

How hearing works

When it comes to good hearing, every part of the complex ear component matters. Waves of sound go into the ear canal and are amplified as they travel toward the inner ear. Inside the labyrinth of the inner ear, tiny hair cells vibrate in response to the sound waves to send electrical impulses that the brain decodes.

Over time these little hairs can become irreversibly damaged from exposure to loud sound. Comprehension of sound becomes much harder due to the decrease of electrical impulses to the brain.

Research reveals that this slow loss of hearing isn’t simply an inconsequential part of aging. Whether the impulses are unclear and garbled, the brain will attempt to decode them anyway. The ears can become strained and the brain exhausted from the additional effort to hear and this can ultimately result in a higher risk of developing cognitive decline.

Here are several disease risk factors that have hearing loss in common:

  • Weak overall health
  • Irritability
  • Reduction in alertness
  • Trouble learning new skills
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Exhaustion

And the more extreme your hearing loss the greater your risk of cognitive decline. Even mild hearing loss can double the risk 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 danger. The cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults were observed by Johns Hopkins University over six years. They found that hearing loss significant enough to interfere with conversation was 24 percent more likely to cause memory and cognitive problems.

Why is a hearing test worthwhile?

Hearing loss affects the general health and that would probably surprise many people. Most individuals don’t even recognize they have hearing loss because it develops so slowly. As hearing declines, the human brain adapts gradually so it makes it less obvious.

Scheduling regular thorough assessments gives you and your hearing specialist the ability to correctly assess hearing health and track any decline as it takes place.

Using hearing aids to decrease the risk

Scientists presently believe that the relationship between dementia and hearing loss is largely based on the brain strain that hearing loss causes. So hearing aids should be capable of decreasing the risk, based on that fact. A hearing assistance device amplifies sound while filtering out background noise that impedes your hearing and eases the stress on your brain. The sounds that you’re hearing will get through without as much effort.

Individuals who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. But scientists think hearing loss accelerates that decline. The key to decreasing that risk is routine hearing tests 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 exam if you’re worried that you may be dealing with hearing loss.

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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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