What’s the link between hearing loss and dementia? Brain health and hearing loss have a connection which medical science is starting to understand. Your risk of getting cognitive decline is increased with even minor hearing loss, as it turns out.
These two seemingly unconnected health disorders could have a pathological connection. So how can a hearing test help decrease the danger of hearing loss related dementia?
Dementia, what is it?
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 common form. About five million people in the US are affected by this progressive kind of dementia. Exactly how hearing health effects the risk of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.
How hearing works
The ear components are quite intricate and each one is important in relation to good hearing. Waves of sound go into the ear canal and are boosted as they travel toward the inner ear. Inside the maze of the inner ear, tiny hair cells shake in response to the sound waves to transmit electrical signals that the brain translates.
Over time, many people develop a progressive decline in their ability to hear due to years of trauma to these fragile hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes much harder due to the decrease of electrical signals to the brain.
Research indicates that this gradual loss of hearing isn’t only an inconsequential part of aging. Whether the signals are unclear and jumbled, the brain will try to decipher them anyway. The ears can become strained and the brain exhausted from the extra effort to hear and this can ultimately lead to a higher chance of developing dementia.
Loss of hearing is a risk factor for lots of diseases that result in:
- Reduction in alertness
- Inability to master new tasks
- Memory impairment
- Weak overall health
The odds of developing cognitive decline can increase based on the degree of your hearing loss, also. Even mild hearing loss can double the danger of cognitive decline. More advanced hearing loss means three times the risk and a person with extreme, neglected loss of hearing has up to five times the risk of developing cognitive decline. The cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults were observed by Johns Hopkins University over six years. Memory and cognitive issues are 24 percent more likely in people who have hearing loss severe enough to disrupt conversation, according to this study.
Why a hearing exam matters
Not everybody understands how even a little hearing loss affects their overall health. For most people, the decline is progressive so they don’t always realize there is an issue. The human brain is good at adapting as hearing declines, so it’s not so obvious.
We will be able to properly evaluate your hearing health and track any changes as they occur with regular hearing exams.
Decreasing the risk with hearing aids
Scientists currently believe that the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss has a lot to do with the brain strain that hearing loss causes. Based on that one fact, you may conclude that hearing aids decrease that risk. A hearing assistance device boosts sound while filtering out background noise that impedes your hearing and relieves the strain on your brain. With a hearing aid, the brain won’t work as hard to comprehend the sounds it’s receiving.
Individuals who have normal hearing can still possibly get dementia. What science thinks is that hearing loss quickens the decline in the brain, raising the risk of cognitive issues. The key to reducing that risk is routine hearing tests to diagnose and treat gradual hearing loss before it can have an affect on brain health.
If you’re worried that you might be dealing with hearing loss, give us a call today to schedule your hearing examination.