Dementia and hearing loss, what’s the link? Brain health and hearing loss have a connection which medical science is starting to understand. Your risk of developing dementia is increased with even minor hearing loss, as it turns out.
Researchers think that there may be a pathological link between these two seemingly unrelated health issues. So how can a hearing exam help decrease the risk of hearing loss related dementia?
What is dementia?
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 often think of Alzheimer’s disease when they hear dementia probably because it is a prevalent form. Around five million people in the US are affected by this progressive type of dementia. Exactly how hearing health effects the risk of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.
How hearing works
When it comes to good hearing, every part of the intricate ear component matters. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they’re amplified. Electrical signals are transmitted to the brain for decoding by tiny little hairs in the inner ear that shake in response to sound waves.
Over the years these tiny hairs can become permanently damaged from exposure to loud noise. Comprehension of sound becomes much more difficult because of the reduction of electrical impulses to the brain.
Research indicates that this slow loss of hearing isn’t just an irrelevant part of aging. Whether the impulses are unclear and jumbled, the brain will attempt to decipher them anyway. That effort puts strain on the organ, making the person struggling to hear more vulnerable to developing dementia.
Here are several disease risk factors with hearing loss in common:
- Inability to master new tasks
- Impaired memory
- Reduction in alertness
- Weak overall health
The odds of developing cognitive decline can increase based on the extent of your hearing loss, also. Someone with just mild hearing loss has double the risk. More significant hearing loss means three times the risk and a person with extreme, untreated loss of hearing has up to five times the risk of developing cognitive decline. Research by Johns Hopkins University monitored the cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults over a six-year period. They revealed that hearing loss advanced enough to hinder conversation was 24 percent more likely to lead to memory and cognitive problems.
Why a hearing exam matters
Not everyone realizes how even a little hearing loss affects their general health. Most individuals don’t even realize they have hearing loss because it progresses so slowly. The human brain is good at adapting as hearing declines, so it’s less noticeable.
Scheduling routine comprehensive assessments gives you and your hearing specialist the ability to correctly assess hearing health and monitor any decline as it takes place.
Using hearing aids to reduce the danger
Scientists presently think that the link between dementia and hearing loss has a lot to do with the brain stress that hearing loss causes. So hearing aids should be capable of decreasing the risk, based on that fact. The strain on your brain will be reduced by using a hearing aid to filter out unwanted background noise while boosting sounds you want to hear. The sounds that you’re hearing will come through without as much effort.
Individuals who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. But scientists think hearing loss quickens that decline. The key to decreasing that risk is regular hearing exams to diagnose and manage gradual hearing loss before it can have an impact on brain health.
If you’re worried that you may be dealing with hearing loss, contact us today to schedule your hearing assessment.