What’s the Connection Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

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

If you start talking about dementia at your next family get-together, you will most likely put a dark cloud over the whole event.

Dementia isn’t a topic most individuals are intentionally looking to discuss, mainly because it’s rather scary. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you gradually (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, experience mood swings, and have memory issues. No one wants to go through that.

This is why many people are seeking a way to counter, or at least slow, the advancement of dementia. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have some fairly clear connections and correlations.

That may seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, actually)? Why does hearing loss raise chances of dementia?

What takes place when your hearing loss goes untreated?

You recognize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it isn’t at the top of your list of concerns. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just turn on the captions.

But then again, perhaps you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still subtle. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a solid correlation. That may have something to do with what happens when you have neglected hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes harder to understand. You could start to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You can draw away from family, friends, and loved ones. You won’t talk with people as often. This kind of social isolation is, well, bad for your brain. It’s not good for your social life either. What’s more, many individuals who cope with 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 be working overtime. Your ears will collect less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. Because of this, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This is incredibly taxing. The present concept is, when this occurs, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. The idea is that after a while this contributes to dementia (or, at least, helps it along). Mental fatigue and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the consequence of your brain having to work so hard.

You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it really is.

Hearing loss is one of the leading indicators of dementia

Let’s say you have only slight hearing impairment. Whispers may get lost, but you can hear everything else so…no problem right? Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.

So one of the preliminary signs of dementia can be even mild hearing loss.

So… How should we understand this?

Well, it’s important not to forget 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. It does mean that later in life you will have a greater risk of developing cognitive decline. But that might actually be good news.

Your risk of cognitive decline is reduced by effectively dealing with your hearing loss. So how can hearing loss be addressed? There are numerous ways:

  • The affect of hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids stop dementia? That’s tough to say, but hearing aids can enhance brain function. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t have to work so hard to carry on conversations. Research suggests that managing hearing loss can help decrease your risk of developing dementia in the future. That’s not the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
  • Set up an appointment with us to identify your present hearing loss.
  • You can take some measures to protect your hearing from further harm if you detect your hearing loss early enough. You could, for instance, wear hearing protection if you work in a noisy setting and avoid noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.

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:

  • Getting adequate sleep at night is imperative. Some studies have linked a higher risk of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep every night.
  • Quit smoking. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, including your risk of developing dementia (this list also includes drinking too much alcohol).
  • Eating more healthy food, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. Sometimes, medication can help here, some people simply have naturally higher blood pressure; those people could need medication sooner than later.
  • Get some exercise.

The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being studied by scientists. 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, over time, hearing better will reduce your overall risk of cognitive decline. But it isn’t just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s now. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.

It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And a little bit of hearing loss management, perhaps in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!



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.