Hearing Loss and Dementia: What’s the Link?

Hearing test showing ear of senior man with sound waves simulation technology

Want to take all the joy out of your next family gathering? Start talking about dementia.

Dementia is not a subject most individuals are actively seeking to talk about, mostly because it’s pretty scary. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, causes you to lose touch with reality, experience memory loss, and brings about an over-all loss of mental function. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.

So preventing or at least slowing dementia is a priority for many people. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have several pretty clear connections and correlations.

That might seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, it turns out)? Why are the dangers of dementia increased with hearing loss?

What takes place when your hearing impairment is neglected?

Perhaps you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you’re not too concerned about it. You can just crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just put on the captions.

But then again, perhaps you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still easy to ignore. In either case, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a strong correlation. That may 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 might become distant from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with others as much. It’s not good for your brain to separate yourself like this. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most individuals who have this kind of isolation won’t even know that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will start to work much harder. Your ears will collect less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This is extremely taxing. Your brain will then have to get extra power from your memory and thinking centers (at least that’s the present theory). It’s thought that this may speed up the onset of cognitive decline. Your brain working so hard can also result in all manner of other symptoms, such as mental fatigue and tiredness.

You might have thought that your hearing loss was more harmless than it really is.

One of the leading indicators of dementia is hearing loss

Let’s say you have only slight hearing loss. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else is just fine. Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.

Meaning that even minor hearing loss is a pretty good preliminary indication of a risk of dementia.

So… How should we interpret this?

Well, it’s essential to remember that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will lead to dementia. Rather, it just means you have a higher chance of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But there might be an upside.

Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you lower your risk of dementia. So how can you deal with your hearing loss? Here are several ways:

  • If your hearing loss is detected early, there are certain measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. You could, for instance, use hearing protection if you work in a loud environment and avoid noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.
  • Schedule an appointment with us to identify your existing hearing loss.
  • Wearing a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. So, can cognitive decline be stopped by wearing hearing aids? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. This is why: You’ll be able to participate in more discussions, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Research implies that treating hearing loss can help decrease your danger of developing dementia in the future. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.

Other ways to reduce your dementia risk

Of course, there are other things you can do to decrease your risk of dementia, too. This might include:

  • Getting enough sleep at night is essential. There are studies that link fewer than four hours of sleep per night to a higher risk of dementia.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, and that includes your chance of developing dementia (excessive alcohol use is also on this list).
  • Get some exercise.
  • A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is generally healthy can go a long way. Sometimes, medication can help here, some people simply have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals could need medication sooner rather than later.

The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. It’s a complicated disease with a matrix of causes. But any way you can lower your risk is good.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, hearing better will help reduce your overall risk of developing dementia down the line. You’ll be bettering your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.

Losing out on the important things in life stinks. And a little bit of hearing loss management, maybe in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.

So call us today for an appointment.



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.