Regular Hearing Exams Could Decrease Your Danger of Getting Dementia

Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

Cognitive decline and hearing loss, what’s the link? Medical science has found a connection between brain health and hearing loss. It was discovered that even minor neglected hearing loss raises your risk of developing dementia.

Scientists believe that there might be a pathological link between these two seemingly unrelated health problems. So how can a hearing test help minimize the danger of hearing loss related dementia?

What is dementia?

The Mayo Clinic says 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 most likely because it is a prevalent form. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that affects around five million people in the U.S. Exactly how hearing health effects the risk of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.

How hearing works

The ear components are extremely complex and each one matters when it comes to good hearing. As waves of sound vibration move towards the inner ear, they’re amplified. Inside the labyrinth of the inner ear, tiny hair cells shake in response to the sound waves to send electrical signals that the brain translates.

Over the years these little hairs can become permanently damaged from exposure to loud noise. Comprehension of sound becomes much more difficult due to the decrease of electrical impulses to the brain.

Research reveals that this slow loss of hearing isn’t just an irrelevant part of aging. The brain attempts to decode any messages sent by the ear even if they are jumbled or unclear. The ears can become strained and the brain exhausted from the additional effort to hear and this can eventually lead to a higher risk of developing dementia.

Here are a few disease risk factors that have hearing loss in common:

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

The odds of developing dementia can increase based on the extent of your hearing loss, too. Even slight hearing loss can double the risk of cognitive decline. More significant hearing loss means three times the danger and a person with extreme, neglected loss of hearing has up to five times the odds of developing cognitive decline. The cognitive skills of over 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 study.

Why a hearing test matters

Hearing loss affects the general health and that would probably surprise many people. For most people, the decline is progressive so they don’t always recognize there is a problem. As hearing declines, the human brain adjusts gradually so it makes it less obvious.

Scheduling routine comprehensive assessments gives you and your hearing specialist the ability to properly assess hearing health and monitor any decline as it happens.

Using hearing aids to decrease the danger

Scientists currently believe that the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss has a lot to do with the brain stress that hearing loss causes. So hearing aids should be capable of decreasing the risk, based on that fact. The strain on your brain will be decreased by using a hearing aid to filter out unwanted background noise while enhancing sounds you want to hear. The sounds that you’re hearing will come through without as much effort.

People who have normal hearing can still possibly get dementia. But scientists believe hearing loss quickens that decline. Having regular hearing exams to identify and manage hearing loss before it gets too extreme is key to decreasing that risk.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test if you’re concerned that you might be coping with hearing loss.

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.