What’s the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline? Medical science has found a connection between brain health and hearing loss. It was discovered that even mild neglected hearing loss increases your risk of developing dementia.
Researchers think that there may be a pathological connection between these two seemingly unrelated health issues. So how can a hearing test help reduce the risk of hearing loss related dementia?
Dementia, what is it?
The Mayo Clinic reveals that dementia is a group of symptoms that alter memory, alter the ability to think concisely, and decrease socialization skills. Alzheimer’s is a common form of cognitive decline the majority of people think of when they hear the word dementia. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that affects around five million people in the U.S. Exactly how hearing health effects the risk of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.
How hearing works
When it comes to good hearing, every part of the intricate ear mechanism matters. Waves of sound go into the ear canal and are boosted as they travel toward the inner ear. Electrical impulses are transmitted to the brain for decoding by tiny little hairs in the inner ear that vibrate in response to waves of sound.
As time passes, many individuals develop a slow decline in their ability to hear because of years of trauma to these fragile hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes much harder due to the reduction of electrical impulses to the brain.
Research reveals that this gradual loss of hearing isn’t just an irrelevant part of aging. Whether the impulses are unclear and jumbled, the brain will try to decipher them anyway. That effort puts stress on the ear, making the individual struggling to hear more vulnerable to developing dementia.
Here are a few disease risk factors that have hearing loss in common:
- Impaired memory
- Overall diminished health
- Reduction in alertness
- Trouble learning new skills
The likelihood of developing cognitive decline can increase depending on the extent of your hearing loss, also. Even mild hearing loss can double the odds of dementia. Hearing loss that is more significant will raise the risk by three times and very severe neglected hearing loss can put you at up to a five times greater risk. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University watched the cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults over a six-year period. They discovered that hearing loss significant enough to hinder conversation was 24 percent more likely to lead to memory and cognitive problems.
Why is a hearing test worthwhile?
Not everyone understands how even minor hearing loss impacts their overall health. For most, the decline is progressive so they don’t always know there is a problem. The human brain is good at adjusting as hearing declines, so it is not so noticeable.
We will be able to effectively assess your hearing health and track any changes as they happen with routine hearing exams.
Decreasing the danger with hearing aids
The current theory is that stress on the brain from hearing loss plays a big role in cognitive decline and different types of dementia. So hearing aids should be able to reduce the risk, based on that fact. The stress on your brain will be decreased by using a hearing aid to filter out undesirable background noise while boosting sounds you want to hear. The sounds that you’re hearing will come through without as much effort.
There is no rule that says individuals who have normal hearing won’t develop dementia. What science believes is that hearing loss speeds up the decline in the brain, raising the risk of cognitive issues. Getting regular hearing tests to identify and manage hearing loss before it gets too extreme is key to decreasing that risk.
Call us today to make an appointment for a hearing exam if you’re worried that you might be coping with hearing loss.