What’s the Connection Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

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

Want to suck all the fun out of your next family gathering? Start to talk about dementia.

The subject of dementia can be really frightening and most individuals aren’t going to purposely discuss it. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive condition, causes you to lose a grip on reality, experience loss of memory, and causes a general loss of mental faculties. It isn’t something anybody looks forward to.

So preventing or at least slowing dementia is important for many individuals. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.

That may seem a bit… surprising to you. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, it turns out)? Why does hearing loss increase the risk of dementia?

When you disregard hearing loss, what are the consequences?

You realize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of worries. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just put on the captions.

But then again, perhaps you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still subtle. In either case, hearing loss and cognitive 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 begin to keep yourself secluded from others because of this. You might become distant from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with others as much. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself like this. It’s not good for your social life either. Additionally, many individuals who cope with hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they likely won’t attribute their isolation to their hearing.
  • Your brain will start to work much harder. Your ears will collect less audio information when you have untreated hearing loss. Because of this, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This will really exhaust your brain. The current concept is, when this occurs, your brain pulls power from your thinking and memory centers. The thinking is that over time this results in dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Your brain working so hard can also cause all kinds of other symptoms, such as mental fatigue and exhaustion.

You may have suspected that your hearing loss was more harmless than it actually is.

Hearing loss is one of the leading signs of dementia

Let’s say you only have mild hearing impairment. Whispers may get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.

So one of the preliminary indications of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.

Now… What does that suggest?

We’re considering risk in this circumstance which is important to note. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there isn’t any guarantee it will lead to dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have an increased chance of developing cognitive decline. But there could be an upside.

Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by effectively dealing with your hearing loss. So how can hearing loss be controlled? Here are a few ways:

  • If your hearing loss is caught early, there are some measures you can take to protect your hearing. For example, you could stay away from noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re around anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
  • Wearing a hearing aid can help reduce the affect of hearing loss. So, can dementia be prevented by using hearing aids? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we recognize 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 as hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially involved. Research indicates that managing hearing loss can help decrease your danger of developing dementia when you get older. That’s not the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
  • Come in and see us so we can help you diagnose any hearing loss you may have.

Other ways to reduce your dementia risk

Naturally, there are other things you can do to lower your chance of cognitive decline, too. This could include:

  • A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is good for your overall can go a long way. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to use medication to lower it.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Quit smoking. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, including your risk of experiencing cognitive decline (excess alcohol drinking can also go on this list).
  • Be sure you get plenty of sleep each night. Some research links a higher risk of dementia to getting less than four hours of sleep every night.

The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. It’s a complicated disease with an array of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, hearing better will help lower your overall danger of developing cognitive decline in the future. But it isn’t just your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s today. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more garbled misunderstandings, no more quiet 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, maybe in the form of a hearing aid, can help significantly.

So call us today for 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.