Want to take all the fun out of your next family gathering? Start talking about dementia.
The topic of dementia can be very frightening and most individuals aren’t going to purposely talk about it. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you slowly (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory issues. It isn’t 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. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why are the dangers of dementia increased with hearing loss?>
What happens when your hearing loss goes untreated?
You realize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of concerns. It’s nothing that turning up the volume on your television won’t fix, right? Maybe you’ll just put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.
On the other hand, maybe you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still easy to disregard. Mental decline and hearing impairment are strongly connected either way. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.
- Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could start to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You might become removed from loved ones and friends. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself this way. Not to mention your social life. Further, most people who have this type of isolation won’t even know that hearing loss is the cause.
- Your brain will start to work a lot harder. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t get 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 will really exhaust your brain. The current concept is, when this happens, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. It’s thought that this may quicken the development of cognitive decline. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the result of your brain having to work so hard.
So your hearing impairment is not quite as innocuous as you may have thought.
One of the major indicators of dementia is hearing loss
Let’s say you just have slight hearing loss. Whispers may get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, turns out you’re still two times as likely to get dementia as somebody who does not have hearing loss.
So one of the preliminary signs of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.
Now… What does that mean?
Well, it’s important 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 result in dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a higher risk of developing cognitive decline. But there might be an upside.
Your risk of dementia is lowered by successfully managing your hearing loss. So how do you deal with your hearing loss? Here are several ways:
- Come in and see us so we can help you diagnose any hearing loss you might have.
- The impact of hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids stop cognitive decline? 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 conversations, your brain won’t need to work so hard, and you’ll be a little more socially connected. Your risk of developing dementia later in life is minimized by managing hearing loss, research indicates. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.
- If your hearing loss is detected early, there are some measures you can take to protect your hearing. You could, for instance, wear ear protection if you work in a loud setting and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
Other ways to reduce your dementia risk
You can decrease your risk of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. This might include:
- Get some exercise.
- Make sure you get enough sleep every night. Some studies have linked a higher chance of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep per night.
- Eating more healthy food, specifically one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to use medication to bring it down.
- Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, and that includes your risk of experiencing dementia (excessive alcohol drinking is also on this list).
Needless to say, scientists are still studying the link between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. There are a multitude of 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 decrease your general risk of developing dementia down the line. But it’s not just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s right now. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely visits to the grocery store.
It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And a small amount of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.
So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!