Dementia and hearing loss, what’s the connection? Medical science has found a connection between brain health and hearing loss. It was found that even minor neglected hearing impairment raises your risk of developing cognitive decline.
Experts think that there may be a pathological link between these two seemingly unrelated health problems. So, how does loss of hearing put you at risk for dementia and how can a hearing exam help combat it?
What is dementia?
Dementia is a condition that decreases memory ability, clear thinking, and socialization skills, as reported by the Mayo Clinic. Alzheimer’s is a common type of cognitive decline the majority of individuals think of when they hear the word dementia. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that affects about five million people in the U.S. Precisely how hearing health effects the risk of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.
How hearing works
The ear mechanisms are extremely intricate and each one matters in relation to good hearing. Waves of sound go inside the ear canal and are boosted as they travel toward the inner ear. Electrical signals are transmitted to the brain for decoding by tiny little hairs in the inner ear that vibrate in response to sound waves.
Over time these little hairs can become permanently damaged from exposure to loud sound. Comprehension of sound becomes a lot more difficult because of the decrease of electrical signals to the brain.
This progressive hearing loss is sometimes regarded as a normal and insignificant part of the aging process, but research indicates that’s not the case. The brain attempts to decode any signals sent by the ear even if they are jumbled or unclear. That effort puts stress on the organ, making the person struggling to hear more susceptible to developing cognitive decline.
Loss of hearing is a risk factor for numerous diseases that result in:
- Trouble learning new skills
- Memory impairment
- Overall diminished health
- Reduction in alertness
And the more extreme your hearing loss the greater your risk of cognitive decline. Somebody with just mild impairment has double the risk. More significant hearing loss means three times the danger and somebody with severe, untreated loss of hearing has up to five times the risk of developing dementia. The cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults were studied by Johns Hopkins University over six years. Cognitive and memory issues are 24 percent more likely in individuals who have hearing loss significant enough to disrupt conversation, according to this research.
Why is a hearing assessment worthwhile?
Hearing loss impacts the general health and that would most likely surprise many people. Most people don’t even realize they have hearing loss because it develops so slowly. As hearing declines, the human brain adjusts gradually so it makes it less obvious.
We will be able to properly evaluate your hearing health and track any changes as they happen with regular hearing exams.
Using hearing aids to decrease the danger
Scientists presently think that the relationship between cognitive decline and hearing loss is largely based on the brain strain that hearing loss produces. So hearing aids should be capable of decreasing the risk, based on that fact. A hearing assistance device boosts sound while filtering out background noise that impedes your hearing and alleviates the strain on your brain. With a hearing aid, the brain will not work as hard to comprehend the audio messages it’s getting.
There’s no rule that says individuals with normal hearing won’t end up with dementia. But scientists think hearing loss quickens that decline. The key to decreasing that risk is regular hearing tests to diagnose and manage gradual hearing loss before it can have an impact on brain health.
If you’re concerned that you might be dealing with hearing loss, contact us today to schedule your hearing examination.