Your Risk of Getting Dementia Could be Reduced by Having Regular Hearing Exams

Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

What’s the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline? Medical science has found a connection between brain health and hearing loss. It was found that even minor untreated hearing impairment raises your risk of developing dementia.

These two seemingly unrelated health conditions might have a pathological connection. So how can a hearing exam help decrease the danger of hearing loss related dementia?

Dementia, what is it?

The Mayo Clinic says that dementia is a group of symptoms that alter memory, alter the ability to think concisely, and reduce socialization skills. 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 impacted by this progressive type of dementia. Exactly how hearing health effects the danger of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.

How hearing works

In terms of good hearing, every part of the intricate ear mechanism matters. Waves of sound go into the ear canal and are amplified as they move toward the inner ear. Electrical impulses are transmitted to the brain for decoding by tiny little hairs in the inner ear that shake in response to waves of sound.

Over time, many people develop a progressive decline in their ability to hear due to years of trauma to these delicate hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes much more difficult due to the decrease of electrical impulses to the brain.

This progressive hearing loss is sometimes regarded as a normal and inconsequential part of the aging process, but research suggests that’s not the case. The brain attempts to decode any messages sent by the ear even if they are garbled or unclear. That effort puts strain on the ear, making the individual struggling to hear more susceptible to developing cognitive decline.

Here are a few disease risk factors with hearing loss in common:

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

The likelihood of developing dementia can increase depending on the degree of your hearing loss, also. Someone with only mild impairment has twice the risk. Hearing loss that is more severe will raise the risk by three times and extremely severe neglected hearing loss can put you at up to a five times greater danger. The cognitive skills of over 2,000 older adults were observed by Johns Hopkins University over six years. They revealed that hearing loss significant enough to interfere with conversation was 24 percent more likely to cause memory and cognitive issues.

Why is a hearing exam worthwhile?

Not everybody understands how even minor hearing loss impacts their general health. Most people don’t even recognize they have hearing loss because it progresses so slowly. As hearing declines, the human brain adapts gradually so it makes it less obvious.

Scheduling routine comprehensive assessments gives you and your hearing specialist the ability to properly assess hearing health and monitor any decline as it occurs.

Minimizing the risk with hearing aids

Scientists presently think that the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss is largely based on the brain strain that hearing loss produces. Based on that one fact, you could conclude that hearing aids decrease that risk. A hearing assistance device boosts sound while filtering out background noise that interferes with your hearing and alleviates the strain on your brain. The sounds that you’re hearing will come through without as much effort.

There’s no rule that says people who have normal hearing won’t end up with dementia. What science thinks is that hearing loss speeds up the decline in the brain, increasing the risk of cognitive issues. Getting regular hearing tests to diagnose and deal with hearing loss before it gets too extreme is key to decreasing that risk.

If you’re worried that you might be dealing with hearing loss, give us a call today to schedule your hearing evaluation.

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.