If you begin talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will probably put a dark cloud over the entire event.
Dementia is not a subject most individuals are intentionally looking to talk about, mainly because it’s pretty frightening. A degenerative mental disease in which you gradually (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory problems. It’s not something anybody looks forward to.
So stopping or at least slowing dementia is a priority for many individuals. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have several fairly clear connections and correlations.>
You might be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, it turns out)? Why does hearing loss raise the risk of dementia?>
What happens when your hearing loss is neglected?
You realize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of worries. You can just turn up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just put on the captions.
On the other hand, maybe you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still easy to ignore. Either way, hearing loss and mental decline have a powerful connection. That may have something to do with what occurs when you have neglected hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You can draw away from friends, family, and loved ones. You won’t talk with people as much. This sort of social separation is, well, bad for your brain. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most people who have this sort of isolation won’t even realize that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will start to work a lot harder. When you have neglected 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 tries to fill in the gaps. This is unbelievably taxing. The present theory is, when this occurs, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. It’s thought that this may speed up the onset of dementia. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the outcome of your brain needing to work so hard.
So your hearing loss isn’t quite as innocuous as you may have thought.
Hearing loss is one of the primary indicators of dementia
Maybe your hearing loss is mild. Whispers may get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, even with that, your risk of developing dementia is doubled.
Meaning that even minor hearing loss is a pretty strong initial sign of a risk of dementia.
Now… What does that mean?
We’re considering risk in this circumstance which is important to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of cognitive decline or even an early symptom of dementia. Instead, it simply means you have a greater chance of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that might actually be good news.
Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you reduce your chance of dementia. So how can hearing loss be managed? There are numerous ways:
- Come see us so we can help you identify any hearing loss you might have.
- If your hearing loss is caught early, there are certain measures you can take to protect your hearing. For example, you could avoid noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re near anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
- The affect of hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids prevent dementia? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be improved by using hearing aids. This is the reason why: You’ll be capable of participating in more discussions, your brain won’t need to work so hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially involved. Your chance of developing dementia later in life is minimized by managing hearing loss, research implies. That’s not the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
Lowering your risk of dementia – other methods
You can minimize your chance of cognitive decline by doing some other things too, of course. Here are a few examples:
- A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is generally healthy can go a long way. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to take medication to lower it.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, including your chance of experiencing dementia (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep every night. Some studies link less than four hours of sleep per night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
- Get some exercise.
Needless to say, scientists are still studying the link between dementia, hearing loss, lifestyle, and more. There are so many causes that make this disease so complex. But the lower your risk, the better.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, over time, hearing better will decrease your overall risk of dementia. You’ll be improving your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely trips to the grocery store.
Losing out on the important things in life stinks. And taking steps to deal with your hearing loss, maybe by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!