Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

What’s the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline? Brain health and hearing loss have a link which medical science is starting to comprehend. Your risk of developing dementia is increased with even mild hearing loss, as it turns out.

These two seemingly unrelated health disorders could have a pathological connection. So, how does hearing loss put you in danger of dementia and how can a hearing exam help combat it?

Dementia, what is it?

The Mayo Clinic states that dementia is a cluster of symptoms that alter memory, alter the ability to think clearly, and reduce socialization skills. Alzheimer’s is a prevalent type of cognitive decline most individuals think of when they hear the word dementia. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that affects around five million people in the U.S. Precisely how hearing health effects the risk of dementia is finally well understood by scientists.

How hearing works

When it comes to good hearing, every part of the intricate ear component matters. Waves of sound go inside the ear canal and are boosted as they travel toward the inner ear. Electrical impulses are sent to the brain for decoding by tiny little hairs in the inner ear that shake in response to sound waves.

Over time these tiny hairs can become permanently damaged from exposure to loud noise. The outcome is a decrease in the electrical impulses to the brain that makes it difficult to comprehend sound.

Research reveals that this slow loss of hearing isn’t simply an inconsequential part of aging. Whether the signals are unclear and jumbled, the brain will try to decode them anyway. That effort puts stress on the organ, making the person struggling to hear more susceptible to developing dementia.

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

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

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

Why is a hearing exam worthwhile?

Hearing loss impacts the general health and that would most likely surprise many individuals. Most people 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’s less noticeable.

We will be able to properly assess your hearing health and monitor any changes as they happen with regular hearing exams.

Using hearing aids to reduce the danger

The present hypothesis is that stress on the brain from hearing loss plays a big role in cognitive decline and different kinds of dementia. So hearing aids should be able to reduce the risk, based on that fact. A hearing assistance device boosts sound while filtering out background noise that interferes with your hearing and relieves the strain on your brain. The sounds that you’re hearing will get through without as much effort.

There is no rule that says individuals who have normal hearing won’t develop dementia. But scientists believe hearing loss accelerates that decline. The key to decreasing that risk is routine hearing tests to diagnose and manage gradual hearing loss before it can have an impact on brain health.

Contact us today to set up an appointment for a hearing exam if you’re worried that you might 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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