If you begin talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will most likely put a dark cloud over the whole event.
Dementia isn’t a topic most individuals are actively seeking to discuss, mostly because it’s pretty frightening. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, causes you to lose a grip on reality, experience memory loss, and brings about an over-all loss of mental faculties. No one wants to experience that.
This is why many individuals are looking for a way to counter, or at least delay, the advancement of dementia. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and untreated hearing loss.>
You might be surprised by that. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss increase the risk of dementia?>
What takes place when your hearing impairment goes untreated?
You realize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of concerns. 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.
Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unobserved so far. Perhaps the signs are still hard to detect. Mental decline and hearing loss are strongly linked either way. That could have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.
- It becomes harder to understand conversations. You could begin to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You can draw away from family, friends, and loved ones. You won’t talk with others as often. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself this way. It’s not good for your social life either. What’s more, many individuals who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they probably won’t connect their solitude to their hearing.
- Your brain will begin to work much 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). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This is unbelievably taxing. The current theory is, when this takes place, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. It’s believed that this might quicken the onset of dementia. Mental stress and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the result of your brain having to work so hard.
You may have thought that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it actually is.
One of the major indicators of dementia is hearing loss
Let’s say you just have mild hearing impairment. Whispers might get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, even with that, your chance of developing dementia is doubled.
Which means that even mild hearing loss is a fairly strong initial sign of a dementia risk.
Now… What does that suggest?
Well, it’s important to remember that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased risk of developing cognitive decline. But that could actually be good news.
Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by effectively dealing with your hearing loss. So how can hearing loss be controlled? Here are several ways:
- Using a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids prevent cognitive decline? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we recognize that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be able to participate in more conversations, your brain won’t need to work so hard, and you’ll be a little more socially connected. Research suggests that managing hearing loss can help minimize your danger of developing dementia when you get older. That isn’t the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
- Schedule an appointment with us to diagnose your current hearing loss.
- If your hearing loss is caught early, there are some steps you can take to protect your hearing. As an example, you could stay away from noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
Lowering your chance of dementia – other strategies
Naturally, there are other things you can do to reduce your chance of dementia, too. Here are some examples:
- Make sure you get enough sleep every night. Some studies have linked an increased chance of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep every night.
- Exercise is necessary for good overall health and that includes hearing health.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will raise your chance of dementia and will impact your general health (excess alcohol drinking is also on this list).
- A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to use medication to lower it.
The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But the lower your risk, the better.
Hearing is its own benefit
So, over time, hearing better will reduce your general risk of dementia. But it isn’t just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s right now. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to control your hearing loss, maybe by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.
So call us today for an appointment.