If you start talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will most likely put a dark cloud over the entire event.
The topic of dementia can be very frightening and most people aren’t going to go out of their way to discuss it. A degenerative mental disease in which you gradually (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory problems. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.
For this reason, many individuals are seeking a way to prevent, or at least slow, the development of dementia. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and untreated hearing loss.>
That might seem a bit… surprising to you. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss increase chances of dementia?>
What takes place when your hearing loss goes untreated?
Perhaps you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you’re not too concerned about it. It’s nothing that turning up the volume on your television won’t fix, right? Maybe you’ll just turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.
Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone unobserved so far. Maybe the signs are still hard to detect. Cognitive decline and hearing impairment are strongly linked either way. That could have something to do with what occurs when you have untreated hearing loss.
- It becomes more difficult to understand conversations. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others because of this. You can withdraw from friends, family, and loved ones. You’ll talk to others less. It’s not good for your brain to isolate yourself like this. And naturally your social life. Further, most people who have this type of isolation won’t even realize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will start to work much harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stay with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This will really exhaust your brain. The current theory is, when this takes place, your brain draws power from your thinking and memory centers. It’s believed that this could hasten the development of dementia. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the consequence of your brain having to work so hard.
You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it really is.
One of the leading signs of dementia is hearing loss
Let’s say you just have mild hearing impairment. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is just fine. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to get dementia as somebody who does not have hearing loss.
So one of the initial indications of dementia can be even mild hearing loss.
Now… What does that suggest?
Well, it’s essential to remember that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. Instead, it simply means you have a greater risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that might actually be good news.
Your risk of cognitive decline is reduced by successfully managing your hearing loss. So how can you manage your hearing loss? There are several ways:
- The affect of hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. So, can dementia be avoided by wearing hearing aids? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. This is why: You’ll be capable of participating in more discussions, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more socially connected. Your risk of developing dementia later in life is reduced by managing hearing loss, research implies. That isn’t the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
- If your hearing loss is detected early, there are some measures you can take to protect your hearing. You could, for instance, wear hearing protection if you work in a loud environment and avoid noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
- Come see us so we can help you diagnose any hearing loss you may have.
Lowering your chance of dementia – other methods
Naturally, there are other things you can do to reduce your chance of cognitive decline, too. Here are some examples:
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will raise your risk of cognitive decline and will impact your overall health (excessive alcohol drinking can also go on this list).
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep every night. Some studies link fewer than four hours of sleep per night to a higher risk of dementia.
- A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is generally healthy can go a long way. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to use medication to bring it down.
- Exercise is necessary for good general health including hearing health.
Needless to say, scientists are still researching the connection between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complicated disease with an array of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, hearing better will help reduce your general danger of developing dementia in the future. You’ll be bettering your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely trips to the grocery store.
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 make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!