Cognitive decline and hearing loss, what’s the link? Brain health and hearing loss have a link which medical science is beginning to comprehend. It was found that even minor untreated hearing impairment increases your risk of developing cognitive decline.
These two seemingly unrelated health conditions may have a pathological link. So, how does loss of hearing put you in danger of dementia and how can a hearing exam help fight it?
Dementia, what is it?
The Mayo Clinic states that dementia is a group of symptoms that change memory, alter the ability to think clearly, and decrease socialization skills. Alzheimer’s is a common type of cognitive decline most individuals think of when they hear the word dementia. Around five million people in the US are affected by this progressive kind of dementia. These days, medical science has a comprehensive understanding of how ear health alters the danger of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.
How hearing works
The ear mechanisms are very intricate and each one matters when it comes to good hearing. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they’re amplified. Inside the labyrinth of the inner ear, little hair cells vibrate in response to the sound waves to transmit electrical signals that the brain translates.
As time passes, many people develop a slow decline in their ability to hear because of years of trauma to these fragile hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes much harder because of the reduction of electrical impulses to the brain.
This gradual hearing loss is sometimes regarded as a normal and inconsequential part of the aging process, but research indicates that’s not accurate. The brain attempts to decode any messages sent by the ear even if they are garbled or unclear. That effort puts stress on the ear, making the person struggling to hear more vulnerable to developing cognitive decline.
Here are several disease risk factors with hearing loss in common:
- Inability to master new tasks
- Memory impairment
- Reduction in alertness
- Weak overall health
The odds of developing cognitive decline can increase depending on the extent of your hearing loss, also. Even minor hearing loss can double the risk of cognitive decline. Hearing loss that is more significant will raise the risk by three times and extremely severe neglected hearing loss can put you at up to a five times greater danger. The cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults were observed by Johns Hopkins University over six years. They found that hearing loss advanced enough to hinder conversation was 24 percent more likely to cause memory and cognitive problems.
Why a hearing assessment matters
Not everybody realizes how even minor hearing loss impacts their overall health. For most people, the decline is progressive so they don’t always realize there is a problem. As hearing declines, the human brain adjusts gradually so it makes it less obvious.
Scheduling routine thorough assessments gives you and your hearing specialist the ability to correctly assess hearing health and observe any decline as it happens.
Using hearing aids to reduce the risk
Scientists presently think that the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss is largely based on the brain strain that hearing loss causes. Based on that one fact, you might conclude that hearing aids decrease that risk. A hearing assistance device boosts sound while filtering out background noise that disrupts your hearing and alleviates the stress on your brain. The sounds that you’re hearing will come through without as much effort.
There’s no rule that says people who have normal hearing won’t end up with dementia. But scientists think hearing loss accelerates that decline. Getting regular hearing exams to detect and manage hearing loss before it gets too serious is key to reducing that risk.
Call us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing exam if you’re concerned that you might be coping with hearing loss.