Hearing Loss and Dementia: What’s the Link?

Hearing test showing ear of senior man with sound waves simulation technology

Want to take all the fun out of your next family get-together? Start to talk about dementia.

Dementia isn’t a topic most people are actively seeking to discuss, mostly because it’s pretty scary. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, makes you lose touch with reality, experience memory loss, and brings about a general loss of mental faculties. It’s not something anybody looks forward to.

For this reason, many people are seeking a way to prevent, or at least delay, the advancement of dementia. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have some fairly clear connections and correlations.

That may seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, actually)? Why are the risks of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?

When you disregard hearing loss, what are the consequences?

Maybe you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you’re not that concerned about it. You can just turn up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll just turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.

On the other hand, maybe you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still easy to ignore. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a strong connection. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes harder to understand. Consequently, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You can withdraw from family, friends, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself like this. And naturally your social life. Additionally, many individuals who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they probably won’t connect their solitude 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 gaps. This is incredibly taxing. Your brain will then have to get additional energy from your memory and thinking centers (at least that’s the current concept). It’s believed that this could quicken the development of dementia. Your brain working so hard can also result in all kinds of other symptoms, like mental fatigue and exhaustion.

You might have suspected that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it actually is.

One of the major indicators of dementia is hearing loss

Maybe your hearing loss is slight. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else sounds normal. Well, even with that, your risk of developing dementia is doubled.

Meaning that even minor hearing loss is a pretty strong preliminary sign of a dementia risk.

Now… What does that mean?

Well, it’s essential to remember that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it simply means you have a higher risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But there could be an upside.

Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by successfully dealing with your hearing loss. So how do you deal with your hearing loss? Here are several ways:

  • Schedule an appointment with us to diagnose your current hearing loss.
  • The impact of hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be avoided by wearing hearing aids? That’s hard to say, but hearing aids can improve brain function. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be capable of participating in more discussions, your brain won’t need to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more socially connected. Research implies that managing hearing loss can help reduce your risk of developing dementia when you get older. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
  • If your hearing loss is detected early, there are some steps you can take to protect your hearing. As an example, you could steer clear of noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re around anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).

Lowering your risk of dementia – other strategies

Of course, there are other things you can do to reduce your risk of cognitive decline, too. This could include:

  • Stop smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your chance of cognitive decline as well as impacting your general health (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
  • Eating more healthy food, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to use medication to bring it down.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Getting adequate sleep at night is crucial. Some research links an increased chance of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep each night.

Of course, scientists are still researching the connection between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complex disease with an array of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, hearing better will help lower your overall risk of developing dementia in the future. You’ll be bettering your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.

Losing out on the important things in life stinks. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be a big help.

So call us today for an appointment.



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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