If you start talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will most likely put a dark cloud above the whole event.
The subject of dementia can be really scary and most individuals aren’t going to go out of their way to discuss it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, causes you to lose touch with reality, experience loss of memory, and brings about an over-all loss of mental faculties. It isn’t something anyone looks forward to.
This is why many people are looking for a way to prevent, or at least delay, the development of dementia. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.>
That may seem a bit… surprising to you. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why are the dangers of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?>
When you disregard hearing loss, what are the repercussions?
Maybe you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you aren’t too concerned about it. You can simply turn up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just put on the captions.
Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone unobserved so far. Perhaps the signs are still subtle. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a strong correlation. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.
- It becomes harder to understand conversations. You could begin to keep yourself secluded from others because of this. You can withdraw from family, friends, and loved ones. You speak to others less. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself like this. And naturally your social life. Additionally, many people who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they most likely won’t attribute their solitude to their hearing.
- Your brain will start 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). Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. The present theory is, when this happens, your brain draws power from your thinking and memory centers. 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 tiredness.
So your hearing loss is not quite as harmless as you may have thought.
One of the leading indicators of dementia is hearing loss
Let’s say you just have mild hearing loss. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else sounds normal. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to get dementia as someone who doesn’t have hearing loss.
So one of the initial signs of dementia can be even mild hearing loss.
Now… What does that mean?
We’re considering risk in this circumstance which is relevant to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it just means you have a greater risk of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But that might actually be good news.
Because it means that successfully managing your hearing loss can help you lower your risk of cognitive decline. So how can hearing loss be managed? Here are a few ways:
- Come see us so we can help you diagnose any hearing loss you may have.
- Using a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids stop cognitive decline? That’s difficult 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 involved. Research implies 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 regardless.
- You can take some measures to safeguard your hearing from further harm if you detect your hearing loss soon enough. For example, you could steer clear of noisy events (such as concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re around anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
Other ways to lower your dementia risk
Of course, there are other things you can do to reduce your chance of dementia, too. Here are a few examples:
- A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is good for your overall well being can go a long way. In some cases, medication can help here, some people just have naturally higher blood pressure; those people may need medication sooner than later.
- Be sure you get plenty of sleep every night. Some studies link fewer than four hours of sleep every night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
- Exercise is necessary for good general health including hearing health.
- Quit smoking. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, including your chance of developing cognitive decline (excessive alcohol drinking is also on this list).
The link 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 decrease your overall risk of dementia. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more garbled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely visits to the grocery store.
Missing out on the important things in life stinks. And a small amount of hearing loss management, perhaps in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.
So call us today for an appointment.