If you begin talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will probably put a dark cloud above the entire event.
Dementia isn’t a topic most people are intentionally looking to talk about, mostly because it’s pretty frightening. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you slowly (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, experience mood swings, and have memory loss. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.
For this reason, many individuals are looking for a way to prevent, or at least slow, the development of dementia. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have several pretty clear connections and correlations.>
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 increased with hearing loss?>
When you disregard hearing loss, what are the consequences?
You recognize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of worries. You can simply turn up the volume, right? Maybe you’ll just put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.
But then again, perhaps you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still subtle. Mental decline and hearing impairment are strongly connected either way. That could have something to do with what occurs when you have neglected hearing loss.
- It becomes more difficult to understand conversations. You could start to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You may become removed from loved ones and friends. You speak to others less. This kind of social separation is, well, not good for your brain. Not to mention your social life. Further, most individuals who have this kind of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will be working overtime. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). As a result, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This is incredibly taxing. The present concept is, when this occurs, your brain pulls power from your thinking and memory centers. It’s believed that this might quicken the onset of cognitive decline. Your brain working so hard can also result in all kinds of other symptoms, like mental stress and exhaustion.
You might have thought that your hearing loss was more harmless than it really is.
One of the major indicators of dementia is hearing loss
Perhaps your hearing loss is slight. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else sounds normal. Well, turns out you’re still two times as likely to get dementia as somebody who does not have hearing loss.
So one of the preliminary indications of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
Now… What does that suggest?
We’re considering risk in this situation which is relevant to note. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there isn’t any guarantee it will lead to dementia. Instead, it just means you have a greater chance of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that could actually be good news.
Because it means that successfully dealing with your hearing loss can help you lower your risk of cognitive decline. So how can hearing loss be addressed? There are several ways:
- You can take some measures to safeguard your hearing from further damage if you catch your hearing loss soon enough. You could, for instance, wear hearing protection if you work in a noisy environment and avoid noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
- Using a hearing aid can help decrease the impact of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids stop dementia? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we recognize that brain function can be enhanced by wearing hearing aids. This is the reason why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t need to work so hard to carry on discussions. Your risk of developing dementia in the future is reduced by treating hearing loss, research implies. It won’t stop dementia but we can still call it a win.
- Schedule an appointment with us to diagnose your existing hearing loss.
Lowering your chance of dementia – other methods
You can reduce your risk of cognitive decline by doing some other things too, of course. Here are a few examples:
- Stop smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your chance of dementia and will impact your overall health (excessive alcohol drinking can also go on this list).
- Be sure you get plenty of sleep each night. Some studies have linked an increased risk of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise is needed for good general health and that includes hearing health.
- Eating more healthy food, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to take medication to lower it.
The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complex. But any way you can lower your risk is good.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, over time, hearing better will reduce your general risk of dementia. But it’s not only your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s right now. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more garbled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely trips to the grocery store.
Losing 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.
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