Geneva Hearing Services - Geneva, IL

Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

What’s the connection between hearing loss and dementia? Brain health and hearing loss have a connection which medical science is beginning to comprehend. Your risk of developing dementia is increased with even minor hearing loss, as it turns out.

These two seemingly unconnected health disorders may have a pathological link. So how can a hearing test help minimize the danger of hearing loss related dementia?

What is dementia?

The Mayo Clinic states that dementia is a cluster of symptoms that alter memory, alter the ability to think clearly, and reduce socialization skills. People tend to think of Alzheimer’s disease when they hear dementia probably because it is a common form. About five million people in the US are impacted by this progressive form of dementia. Exactly how hearing health effects the risk of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.

How hearing works

The ear mechanisms are quite complex and each one is important in relation to good hearing. Waves of sound go into the ear canal and are boosted as they move 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 sound waves.

Over time, many people develop a slow decline in their ability to hear because of years of damage to these fragile hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes a lot harder because of the reduction of electrical impulses to the brain.

This progressive hearing loss is sometimes regarded as a normal and insignificant part of the aging process, but research shows that’s not the case. Whether the impulses are unclear and jumbled, the brain will try to decipher them anyway. That effort puts strain on the organ, making the person struggling to hear more susceptible to developing dementia.

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

  • Exhaustion
  • Overall diminished health
  • Inability to master new tasks
  • Reduction in alertness
  • Memory impairment
  • Irritability
  • Depression

The likelihood of developing dementia can increase depending on the degree of your hearing loss, too. An individual with just mild hearing loss has twice the risk. More advanced hearing loss means three times the danger and somebody with extreme, untreated loss of hearing has up to five times the odds of developing cognitive decline. The cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults were studied by Johns Hopkins University over six years. Cognitive and memory problems are 24 percent more likely in people who have hearing loss extreme enough to disrupt conversation, according to this research.

Why is a hearing test important?

Hearing loss impacts the general health and that would probably surprise many people. Most people don’t even recognize they have hearing loss because it develops so slowly. The human brain is good at adjusting as hearing declines, so it is less noticeable.

Scheduling routine comprehensive assessments gives you and your hearing specialist the ability to correctly evaluate hearing health and monitor any decline as it takes place.

Using hearing aids to decrease the risk

Scientists presently think that the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss is largely based on the brain strain that hearing loss produces. Based on that one fact, you might conclude that hearing aids reduce that risk. The strain on your brain will be decreased by using a hearing aid to filter out undesirable background noise while enhancing sounds you want to hear. With a hearing aid, the brain won’t work so hard to understand the audio messages it’s getting.

Individuals who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. But scientists think hearing loss accelerates that decline. The key to decreasing that risk is regular hearing exams to diagnose and treat gradual hearing loss before it can have an affect on brain health.

If you’re worried that you might be suffering from hearing loss, contact us today to schedule your hearing examination.

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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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