If you start talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will most likely put a dark cloud over the whole event.
The subject of dementia can be really scary and most people aren’t going to go out of their way to talk about it. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you slowly (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, experience mood swings, and have memory problems. It’s not something anyone looks forward to.
So preventing or at least slowing dementia is important for many individuals. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.>
That may seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, it turns out)? Why does hearing loss increase the risk of dementia?>
When you neglect hearing loss, what are the consequences?
Maybe you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you aren’t that worried about it. It’s nothing that cranking up the volume on your television won’t solve, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just put on the captions.
On the other hand, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still easy to disregard. Cognitive decline and hearing loss are firmly connected either way. That might have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.
- It becomes harder to understand conversations. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You may become removed from loved ones and friends. You speak to others less. This type of social isolation is, well, bad for your brain. Not to mention your social life. Additionally, many individuals who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they most likely won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
- Your brain will start to work a lot harder. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stay with us). Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This is incredibly taxing. Your brain will then need to get additional energy from your memory and thinking centers (at least that’s the current concept). The thinking is that over time this leads to dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Mental fatigue and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the outcome of your brain needing to work so hard.
You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more harmless than it actually is.
One of the principal indicators of dementia is hearing loss
Perhaps your hearing loss is mild. Whispers might get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no problem 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 understand this?
We’re looking at risk in this situation which is important to note. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a higher risk of developing cognitive decline. But that might actually be good news.
Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you lower your risk of dementia. So how can you manage your hearing loss? There are a number of ways:
- You can take a few steps to safeguard your hearing from further harm if you catch your hearing loss early enough. You could, for instance, wear hearing protection if you work in a loud setting 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 prevented by using hearing aids? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we recognize that brain function can be improved by using hearing aids. Here’s why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t need to work so hard to carry on discussions. Research indicates that managing hearing loss can help reduce your danger of developing dementia when you get older. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
- Set up an appointment with us to diagnose your existing hearing loss.
Other ways to lower your dementia risk
Of course, there are other things you can do to decrease your chance of dementia, too. Here are some examples:
- Getting enough sleep at night is essential. Some studies have linked an increased risk of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep per night.
- Get some exercise.
- Eating a healthy diet, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. Sometimes, medication can help here, some individuals just have naturally higher blood pressure; those people could need medication sooner rather than later.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, and that includes your risk of experiencing dementia (excess alcohol drinking is also on this list).
The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, hearing better will help decrease your general risk of developing dementia in the future. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely visits to the grocery store.
It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And a small amount of hearing loss management, perhaps in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!