If you begin talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will most likely put a dark cloud above the entire event.
The topic of dementia can be very scary and most people aren’t going to go out of their way to talk about it. A degenerative mental disease in which you slowly (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory problems. It isn’t something anyone looks forward to.
So stopping or at least slowing dementia is important for many individuals. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.>
You might be surprised by that. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why are the dangers of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?>
When you neglect hearing loss, what are the consequences?
Perhaps you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you’re not that worried about it. You can just crank up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll just turn on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.
But then again, perhaps you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still easy to dismiss. Either way, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a solid correlation. That might have something to do with what happens when you have untreated hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. Consequently, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You might become distant from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with others as much. This type of social separation is, well, bad for your brain. Not to mention your social life. What’s more, many individuals who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even recognize it’s happening, and they probably won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
- Your brain will be working overtime. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stay with us). Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This will really tire your brain out. Your brain will then need to get additional power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the present concept). The idea is that over time this results in dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Your brain working so hard can also result in all manner of other symptoms, such as mental fatigue and exhaustion.
So your hearing loss isn’t quite as harmless as you might have thought.
Hearing loss is one of the major signs of dementia
Perhaps your hearing loss is mild. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else sounds just fine. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to get dementia as somebody who does not have hearing loss.
Which means that even minor hearing loss is a pretty good initial sign of a risk of dementia.
Now… What does that mean?
We’re looking at risk in this circumstance which is important to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a higher chance of developing cognitive decline. But that can actually be good news.
Your risk of dementia is lowered by effectively managing your hearing loss. So how can you deal with your hearing loss? There are several ways:
- Make an appointment with us to identify your current hearing loss.
- If your hearing loss is detected early, there are certain measures you can take to protect your hearing. As an example, you could avoid noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re around anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
- The impact of hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids prevent cognitive decline? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we know that brain function can be improved by wearing hearing aids. This is 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. Your chance of developing dementia in the future is decreased by treating hearing loss, research suggests. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.
Other ways to reduce your dementia risk
Of course, there are other things you can do to lower your chance of dementia, too. This might include:
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will raise your risk of cognitive decline and will impact your general health (this list also includes drinking too much alcohol).
- Getting enough sleep at night is crucial. Some research links an increased risk of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep each night.
- Get some exercise.
- A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is generally healthy can go a long way. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to take medication to bring it down.
The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being studied by scientists. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But the lower your risk, the better.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, over time, hearing better will decrease your overall risk of dementia. 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 missing 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 call us today for an appointment.