If you start talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will probably put a dark cloud over the entire event.
Dementia isn’t a topic most people are actively seeking to discuss, mostly because it’s rather frightening. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you gradually (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory loss. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.
So preventing or at least delaying dementia is a priority for many people. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and untreated hearing loss.>
That may seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, actually)? Why does hearing loss increase chances of dementia?>
When you neglect hearing loss, what are the consequences?
You recognize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of worries. You can just turn up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll simply put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.
Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone unnoticed so far. Maybe the signs are still hard to detect. Cognitive decline and hearing impairment are clearly linked either way. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. As a result, you may start to isolate yourself socially. You can draw away from family, friends, and loved ones. You won’t talk with people as much. It’s not good for your brain to isolate yourself like this. Not to mention your social life. Additionally, many individuals who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even recognize it’s happening, and they likely won’t connect their solitude to their hearing.
- Your brain will start to work a lot harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). As a result, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. The present theory is, when this happens, your brain pulls power from your thought and memory centers. It’s thought that this could speed up the onset of cognitive decline. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the outcome of your brain needing to work so hard.
You might have suspected that your hearing loss was more harmless than it really is.
One of the principal indicators of dementia is hearing loss
Maybe your hearing loss is mild. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is just fine. Well, even with that, your chance of getting dementia is doubled.
Which means that even minor hearing loss is a pretty good preliminary sign of a dementia risk.
So… How should we interpret this?
We’re considering risk in this situation which is relevant to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Instead, it just means you have a greater chance of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that could actually be good news.
Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you lower your chance of dementia. So how can hearing loss be controlled? Here are several ways:
- You can take a few steps to safeguard your hearing from further damage if you catch your hearing loss soon enough. As an example, you could avoid 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).
- Come see us so we can help you diagnose any hearing loss you might have.
- The impact of hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. So, can dementia be stopped by using hearing aids? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can improve brain function. This is why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t have to work so hard to carry on discussions. Your risk of developing dementia in the future is minimized by managing hearing loss, research implies. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
Other ways to decrease your dementia risk
Naturally, there are other things you can do to decrease your chance of dementia, too. This could include:
- Get some exercise.
- Eating a healthy diet, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to take medication to lower it.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will increase your risk of cognitive decline and will impact your overall health (this list also includes drinking too much alcohol).
- Getting enough sleep at night is imperative. Some research links a higher chance of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep every night.
The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being studied by scientists. It’s a complex disease with an array of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, over time, hearing better will reduce your general risk of dementia. You’ll be improving your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.
It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to manage your hearing loss, perhaps by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.
So call us today for an appointment.