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Hearing test showing ear of senior man with sound waves simulation technology

Want to suck all the joy out of your next family gathering? Start to talk about dementia.

Dementia is not a subject most people are intentionally looking to discuss, mainly because it’s pretty scary. A degenerative mental disease in which you gradually (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, experience mood swings, and have memory loss. No one wants to experience that.

So preventing or at least slowing dementia is important for many individuals. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have several fairly clear connections and correlations.

You may be surprised by that. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why are the risks of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?

What takes place when your hearing impairment is neglected?

You recognize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of worries. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your tv won’t solve, right? Maybe you’ll simply put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite program.

On the other hand, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still easy to ignore. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a solid connection. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes harder to understand. As a result, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You can withdraw from friends, family, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. This sort of social separation is, well, not good for your brain. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most individuals who have this type of isolation won’t even know that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will begin to work much harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stay with us). As a result, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then need to get extra power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the current concept). The thinking is that after a while this contributes to dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Your brain working so hard can also cause all kinds of other symptoms, such as mental stress and exhaustion.

You might have suspected that your hearing loss was more harmless than it really is.

One of the major signs of dementia is hearing loss

Maybe your hearing loss is slight. Whispers might get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, even with that, your risk of developing dementia is doubled.

So one of the preliminary indications of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.

So… How should we interpret this?

Well, it’s essential to remember that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But that could actually be good news.

Because it means that effectively managing your hearing loss can help you decrease your risk of dementia. So how can hearing loss be addressed? Here are a few ways:

  • You can take some measures to protect your hearing from further damage if you detect your hearing loss soon enough. You could, for instance, wear ear protection if you work in a loud environment and avoid noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.
  • Wearing a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. So, can cognitive decline be avoided by using hearing aids? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be enhanced by wearing hearing aids. Here’s why: You’ll be able to participate in more conversations, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially connected. Your risk of developing dementia in the future is minimized by managing hearing loss, research suggests. That’s not the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
  • Make an appointment with us to identify your existing hearing loss.

Other ways to reduce your dementia risk

You can decrease your chance of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. Here are a few examples:

  • Be sure you get enough sleep each night. Some studies link fewer than four hours of sleep every night to a higher risk of dementia.
  • A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. Sometimes, medication can help here, some individuals just have naturally higher blood pressure; those people may need medication sooner than later.
  • Quit smoking. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, including your chance of experiencing cognitive decline (excessive alcohol use is also on this list).
  • Get some exercise.

The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are so many causes that make this disease so complicated. But the lower your risk, the better.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, hearing better will help decrease your general danger of developing dementia in the future. But it’s not just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s today. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.

It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to deal with your hearing loss, maybe by using hearing aids, can be a big help.

So call us today for an appointment.

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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.

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