What’s the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline? Brain health and hearing loss have a connection which medical science is starting to comprehend. It was discovered that even mild untreated hearing loss increases your risk of developing dementia.
Experts believe that there may 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 states that dementia is a group of symptoms that change memory, alter the ability to think concisely, and reduce socialization skills. Individuals often think of Alzheimer’s disease when they hear dementia probably because it is a common form. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that impacts around five million people in the U.S. These days, medical science has a complete understanding of how hearing health increases the risk of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.
How hearing works
In terms of good hearing, every part of the complex ear component matters. As waves of sound vibration move towards the inner ear, they get amplified. Electrical signals are transmitted to the brain for decoding by tiny little hairs in the inner ear that shake in response to sound waves.
As time passes, many people develop a progressive decline in their ability to hear due to years of trauma to these fragile hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes much more difficult due to the reduction of electrical signals to the brain.
Research indicates that this slow loss of hearing isn’t simply an irrelevant part of aging. Whether the signals are unclear and jumbled, the brain will try to decode them anyway. The ears can become strained and the brain exhausted from the additional effort to hear and this can eventually lead to a higher chance of developing dementia.
Loss of hearing is a risk factor for numerous diseases that lead to:
- Trouble learning new skills
- Memory impairment
- Overall diminished health
- Reduction in alertness
And the more extreme your hearing loss the greater your risk of dementia. An individual with just minor hearing loss has twice the risk. Hearing loss that is more severe will raise the risk by three times and very severe untreated hearing loss can put you at up to a five times higher danger. Research by Johns Hopkins University monitored the cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults over a six-year period. They revealed that hearing loss advanced enough to hinder conversation was 24 percent more likely to lead to memory and cognitive issues.
Why a hearing exam matters
Not everyone realizes how even minor hearing loss impacts their general health. Most individuals don’t even realize they have hearing loss because it develops so gradually. As hearing declines, the human brain adjusts gradually so it makes it less noticeable.
We will be able to properly assess your hearing health and monitor any changes as they happen with regular hearing exams.
Using hearing aids to reduce the risk
Scientists currently believe that the connection between dementia and hearing loss has a lot to do with the brain strain that hearing loss produces. So hearing aids should be capable of decreasing the risk, based on that fact. The stress on your brain will be reduced by using a hearing aid to filter out undesirable background noise while enhancing sounds you want to hear. With a hearing aid, the brain will not work so hard to comprehend the sounds it’s receiving.
People who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. What science believes is that hearing loss accelerates the decline in the brain, raising the risk of cognitive problems. The key to reducing that risk is regular hearing exams to diagnose and treat gradual hearing loss before it can have an impact on brain health.
If you’re worried that you may be dealing with hearing loss, contact us today to schedule your hearing evaluation.