If you start talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will probably put a dark cloud above the whole event.
The topic of dementia can be really frightening and most people aren’t going to go out of their way to discuss it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, causes you to lose touch with reality, experience memory loss, and brings about a general loss of mental function. Nobody wants to go through that.
So preventing or at least delaying dementia is important for many individuals. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and untreated hearing loss.>
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 chances of dementia?>
When you neglect hearing loss, what are the repercussions?
Maybe you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you’re not too worried about it. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just put on the captions.
Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unobserved so far. Perhaps the signs are still easy to ignore. Cognitive decline and hearing impairment are strongly connected either way. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. Consequently, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You can draw away from friends, family, and loved ones. You won’t talk with people as often. It’s not good for your brain to separate yourself this way. And naturally your social life. What’s more, many people who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they likely won’t connect their isolation to their hearing.
- Your brain will begin to work much harder. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stay with us). Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This is extremely taxing. The present theory is, when this occurs, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. The idea is that over time this contributes to dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Your brain working so hard can also cause all manner of other symptoms, such as mental fatigue and tiredness.
So your hearing loss isn’t quite as harmless as you might have thought.
Hearing loss is one of the leading signs of dementia
Maybe your hearing loss is mild. Whispers might get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, even with that, your chance of developing dementia is doubled.
So one of the preliminary indications of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
Now… What does that mean?
Well, it’s important to remember that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it simply means you have a higher risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that might actually be good news.
Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by successfully managing your hearing loss. So how do you manage your hearing loss? Here are a few ways:
- Make an appointment with us to diagnose your present hearing loss.
- You can take some steps to protect your hearing from further damage if you catch your hearing loss soon enough. You could, for instance, use ear protection if you work in a loud environment and avoid noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.
- Wearing a hearing aid can help minimize the impact of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids stop cognitive decline? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can boost brain function. This is why: You’ll be able to participate in more conversations, your brain won’t have to work so hard, and you’ll be a little more socially connected. Your chance of developing dementia in the future is minimized by treating hearing loss, research suggests. That isn’t the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
Other ways to decrease your dementia risk
Naturally, there are other things you can do to lower your chance of dementia, too. Here are some examples:
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. Smoking will raise your chance of dementia as well as impacting your general health (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
- Getting adequate sleep at night is imperative. Some research links a higher risk of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep per night.
- A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is generally healthy can go a long way. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to use medication to lower it.
- Exercise is needed for good general health and that includes hearing health.
Needless to say, scientists are still researching the link between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. There are so many causes that make this disease so complicated. But the lower your risk, the better.
Being able to hear is its own advantage
So, hearing better will help lower your general danger of developing cognitive decline in the future. You’ll be improving your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.
It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to manage your hearing loss, perhaps by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.
So call us today for an appointment.
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