Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

Cognitive decline and hearing loss, what’s the link? Medical science has connected the dots between brain health and hearing loss. It was found that even mild untreated hearing loss increases your risk of developing cognitive decline.

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

Dementia, what is it?

Dementia is a condition that diminishes memory ability, thinking, and socialization skills, as reported by the Mayo Clinic. Alzheimer’s is a common type of cognitive decline the majority of people think of when they hear the word dementia. About five million people in the US are affected by this progressive type of dementia. Precisely how hearing health impacts the risk of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.

How hearing works

The ear components are very intricate and each one is important in relation to good hearing. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they get amplified. Inside the maze of the inner ear, tiny hair cells vibrate in response to the sound waves to transmit electrical impulses that the brain decodes.

As time passes, many individuals develop a progressive decline in their ability to hear because of years of trauma to these delicate hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes a lot more difficult because of the reduction of electrical impulses to the brain.

Research reveals that this gradual loss of hearing isn’t simply an irrelevant part of aging. Whether the signals are unclear and jumbled, the brain will try to decipher them anyway. That effort puts strain on the ear, making the individual struggling to hear more susceptible to developing cognitive decline.

Loss of hearing is a risk factor for numerous diseases that result in:

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

And the more severe your hearing loss the greater your risk of dementia. Even slight hearing loss can double the danger of cognitive decline. More advanced hearing loss means three times the danger and somebody with extreme, untreated loss of hearing has up to five times the odds of developing dementia. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University tracked the cognitive skills of over 2,000 older adults over a six-year period. They found that hearing loss advanced enough to interfere with conversation was 24 percent more likely to lead to memory and cognitive problems.

Why a hearing exam matters

Hearing loss affects the overall health and that would most likely surprise many people. Most people don’t even recognize they have hearing loss because it progresses so gradually. As hearing declines, the human brain adjusts gradually so it makes it less noticeable.

We will be able to effectively evaluate your hearing health and track any changes as they occur with routine hearing exams.

Minimizing the danger with hearing aids

Scientists presently believe that the relationship between cognitive decline and hearing loss is largely based on the brain strain that hearing loss produces. So hearing aids should be able to reduce the risk, based on that fact. A hearing assistance device boosts sound while filtering out background noise that interferes with your hearing and eases the stress on your brain. The sounds that you’re hearing will get through without as much effort.

There is no rule that says individuals with normal hearing won’t develop dementia. What science believes is that hearing loss accelerates the decline in the brain, increasing the risk of cognitive issues. The key to decreasing that risk is routine hearing tests to diagnose and manage gradual hearing loss before it can have an affect on brain health.

If you’re worried that you might be suffering from hearing loss, give us a call today to schedule your hearing assessment.

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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.
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