Your Danger of Developing Dementia Could be Reduced by Having Regular Hearing Tests

Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

Dementia and hearing loss, what’s the link? Brain health and hearing loss have a link which medical science is beginning to comprehend. Your risk of developing cognitive decline is increased with even minor hearing loss, as it turns out.

Researchers believe that there may be a pathological connection between these two seemingly unrelated health issues. So how can a hearing test help reduce the danger of hearing loss related dementia?

What is dementia?

Dementia is a condition that reduces memory ability, clear thinking, and socialization skills, as reported by the Mayo Clinic. People often think of Alzheimer’s disease when they hear dementia probably because it is a common form. Alzheimer’s means progressive dementia that impacts about five million people in the U.S. Today, medical science has a complete understanding of how ear health alters the danger of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.

How hearing works

The ear mechanisms are very complex and each one is important when it comes to good hearing. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they get amplified. 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.

Over time these little hairs can become irreversibly damaged from exposure to loud noise. The result is a decrease in the electrical signals to the brain that makes it harder to comprehend sound.

This gradual hearing loss is sometimes regarded as a normal and insignificant part of the aging process, but research indicates that’s not accurate. The brain attempts to decode any signals sent by the ear even if they are jumbled or unclear. That effort puts strain on the ear, making the person struggling to hear more vulnerable to developing cognitive decline.

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

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Inability to master new tasks
  • Memory impairment
  • Weak overall health
  • Exhaustion
  • Reduction in alertness

And the more severe your hearing loss the greater your risk of dementia. Somebody with only mild hearing loss has double the risk. More advanced hearing loss means three times the risk and a person with extreme, untreated loss of hearing has up to five times the risk of developing cognitive decline. The cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults were studied by Johns Hopkins University over six years. They revealed that hearing loss advanced enough to interfere with conversation was 24 percent more likely to cause memory and cognitive issues.

Why is a hearing test worthwhile?

Not everyone realizes how even a little hearing loss affects their general health. Most individuals don’t even know they have hearing loss because it progresses so slowly. As hearing declines, the human brain adapts gradually so it makes it less obvious.

We will be able to effectively assess your hearing health and monitor any changes as they occur 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 reduced 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 with normal hearing won’t develop dementia. But scientists believe hearing loss accelerates that decline. Having regular hearing tests to detect and deal with hearing loss before it gets too extreme is key to decreasing that risk.

Contact us today to make an appointment for a hearing exam if you’re concerned that you may be coping with hearing loss.

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.