Your Risk of Developing Dementia Could be Reduced by Having Regular Hearing Tests

Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

Cognitive decline and hearing loss, what’s the connection? Brain health and hearing loss have a connection which medical science is beginning to comprehend. It was discovered that even mild neglected hearing impairment raises your risk of developing dementia.

These two seemingly unrelated health disorders might have a pathological connection. So how can a hearing test help reduce the risk of hearing loss related dementia?

What is dementia?

The Mayo Clinic reveals that dementia is a cluster of symptoms that change memory, alter the ability to think clearly, and decrease socialization skills. People often think of Alzheimer’s disease when they hear dementia probably because it is a prevalent form. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that affects about five million people in the U.S. Exactly how hearing health impacts the danger of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.

How hearing works

When it comes to good hearing, every part of the intricate ear mechanism matters. 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 shake in response to waves of sound.

As time passes, many individuals develop a gradual decline in their ability to hear due to years of trauma to these fragile hair cells. The result is a reduction in the electrical signals to the brain that makes it harder to comprehend sound.

This gradual hearing loss is sometimes regarded as a normal and insignificant part of the aging process, but research indicates that’s not accurate. Whether the impulses are unclear and garbled, the brain will attempt to decipher them anyway. The ears can become strained and the brain fatigued from the additional effort to hear and this can eventually lead to a higher chance of developing dementia.

Loss of hearing is a risk factor for numerous diseases that lead to:

  • Overall diminished health
  • Irritability
  • Exhaustion
  • Inability to master new tasks
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Reduction in alertness

The odds of developing dementia can increase depending on the extent of your hearing loss, too. An individual with just minor impairment has twice the risk. More advanced hearing loss means three times the danger and someone with severe, untreated loss of hearing has up to five times the risk of developing dementia. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University watched the cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults over a six-year period. 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 assessment worthwhile?

Hearing loss impacts the general health and that would most likely surprise many individuals. Most individuals don’t even know they have hearing loss because it progresses so slowly. The human brain is good at adjusting as hearing declines, so it is not so obvious.

We will be able to effectively evaluate your hearing health and track any changes as they happen with routine hearing exams.

Decreasing the risk with hearing aids

Scientists currently think that the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss has a lot to do with the brain strain that hearing loss produces. So hearing aids should be able to reduce the risk, based on that fact. A hearing assistance device amplifies sound while filtering out background noise that disrupts your hearing and relieves the strain on your brain. With a hearing aid, the brain will not work so hard to understand the sounds it’s receiving.

People who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. But scientists believe 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 concerned that you may be dealing with hearing loss, contact us today to schedule your hearing examination.

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.