Your Risk of Developing Dementia Could be Decreased by Having Routine Hearing Exams

Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

Dementia and hearing loss, what’s the connection? Medical science has connected the dots between brain health and hearing loss. It was discovered that even minor neglected hearing impairment increases your risk of developing cognitive decline.

These two seemingly unconnected health disorders may have a pathological link. So how can a hearing exam help minimize the danger of hearing loss related dementia?

What is dementia?

Dementia is a condition that reduces memory ability, clear thinking, and socialization skills, as reported by the Mayo Clinic. Individuals tend to think of Alzheimer’s disease when they hear dementia most likely because it is a prevalent form. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that impacts about five million people in the U.S. Today, medical science has a comprehensive understanding of how hearing health increases the danger of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.

How hearing works

In terms of good hearing, every part of the intricate ear mechanism matters. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they get amplified. Inside the labyrinth of the inner ear, tiny hair cells shake in response to the sound waves to transmit electrical signals that the brain decodes.

As time passes, many individuals develop a progressive decline in their ability to hear because of years of trauma to these delicate hair cells. The outcome is a reduction in the electrical signals to the brain that makes it harder to comprehend sound.

Research indicates that this slow loss of hearing isn’t simply an inconsequential part of aging. Whether the impulses are unclear and garbled, the brain will try to decipher 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 chance of developing dementia.

Here are several disease risk factors with hearing loss in common:

  • Irritability
  • Reduction in alertness
  • Impaired memory
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Trouble learning new skills
  • Overall diminished health

And the more significant your hearing loss the greater your risk of cognitive decline. A person with just minor impairment has double the risk. Hearing loss that is more significant will raise the risk by three times and very severe untreated hearing loss can put you at up to a five times higher risk. The cognitive skills of over 2,000 older adults were studied by Johns Hopkins University over six years. They discovered that hearing loss advanced enough to interfere with conversation was 24 percent more likely to cause memory and cognitive issues.

Why is a hearing test important?

Hearing loss impacts 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.

We will be able to properly evaluate your hearing health and monitor any changes as they occur with routine hearing exams.

Reducing the risk with hearing aids

Scientists presently believe that the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss has a lot to do with the brain stress that hearing loss causes. So hearing aids should be able to reduce the risk, based on that fact. The stress on your brain will be decreased by using a hearing aid to filter out unwanted background noise while boosting sounds you want to hear. With a hearing aid, the brain won’t work as hard to comprehend the sounds it’s receiving.

There’s no rule that says people who have normal hearing won’t develop dementia. What science believes is that hearing loss quickens the decline in the brain, increasing the chances of cognitive issues. The key to decreasing that risk is routine hearing exams to diagnose and treat gradual hearing loss before it can have an impact on brain health.

Call us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing exam if you’re worried that you may be coping with hearing loss.

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.