Call or Text Us Today! 210-944-4116

Wooden brain puzzle representing mental decline due to hearing loss.

Cognitive decline and hearing loss, what’s the link? Medical science has connected the dots between brain health and hearing loss. It was discovered that even minor untreated hearing impairment raises your risk of developing dementia.

Experts think that there may be a pathological link between these two seemingly unrelated health issues. So, how does loss of hearing put you at risk for dementia and how can a hearing test help fight it?

What is dementia?

The Mayo Clinic states that dementia is a group of symptoms that alter memory, alter the ability to think clearly, and decrease socialization skills. Alzheimer’s is a common form of cognitive decline most individuals think of when they hear the word dementia. Around five million people in the US are impacted by this progressive form of dementia. Today, medical science has a complete understanding of how ear health alters the risk of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.

How hearing works

The ear mechanisms are extremely intricate and each one is important in relation to good hearing. As waves of sound vibration move towards the inner ear, they get amplified. Electrical signals are sent to the brain for decoding by tiny little hairs in the inner ear that shake in response to sound waves.

Over time, many people develop a progressive decline in their ability to hear due to years of damage to these delicate hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes much more difficult because of the decrease of electrical impulses to the brain.

This gradual hearing loss is sometimes considered a normal and insignificant part of the aging process, but research suggests that’s not the case. Whether the signals are unclear and garbled, the brain will attempt to decode them anyway. The ears can become strained and the brain exhausted from the additional effort to hear and this can ultimately lead to a higher chance of developing dementia.

Here are several disease risk factors that have hearing loss in common:

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

And the more significant your hearing loss the greater your risk of dementia. Even slight hearing loss can double the risk of dementia. Hearing loss that is more severe will bring the risk up by three times and extremely severe untreated hearing loss can put you at up to a five times higher danger. The cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults were observed by Johns Hopkins University over six years. Cognitive and memory problems are 24 percent more likely in people who have hearing loss extreme enough to disrupt conversation, according to this study.

Why a hearing exam matters

Not everybody understands how even slight hearing loss affects their overall health. Most people don’t even recognize they have hearing loss because it progresses so slowly. As hearing declines, the human brain adjusts gradually so it makes it less noticeable.

We will be able to properly evaluate your hearing health and monitor any changes as they occur with regular hearing exams.

Using hearing aids to decrease the risk

The current hypothesis is that strain on the brain from hearing loss plays a big role in cognitive decline and different kinds of dementia. Based on that one fact, you may conclude that hearing aids reduce that risk. A hearing assistance device amplifies sound while filtering out background noise that disrupts your hearing and alleviates the stress on your brain. The sounds that you’re hearing will get through without as much effort.

Individuals who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. But scientists believe hearing loss quickens that decline. Getting routine hearing exams to detect and deal with hearing loss before it gets too extreme is key to decreasing that risk.

Call us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing exam if you’re concerned that you might be dealing with hearing loss.

Call Today to Set Up 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.
Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call or Text Us