What’s the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline? Brain health and hearing loss have a connection which medical science is beginning to comprehend. Your risk of developing cognitive decline is increased with even minor hearing loss, as it turns out.
Researchers believe that there may be a pathological connection between these two seemingly unrelated health problems. So, how does hearing loss put you in danger of dementia and how can a hearing test help combat it?
Dementia, what is it?
Dementia is a condition that diminishes memory ability, thinking, and socialization skills, as reported by the Mayo Clinic. People often think of Alzheimer’s disease when they hear dementia most likely because it is a prevalent form. Around five million people in the US are affected by this progressive kind of dementia. Precisely how hearing health effects the risk of dementia is finally well grasped by scientists.
How hearing works
The ear components are quite complex and each one matters in relation to good hearing. As waves of sound vibration travel towards the inner ear, they’re amplified. Inside the maze of the inner ear, little hair cells shake in response to the sound waves to send electrical impulses that the brain translates.
Over time, many individuals develop a progressive decline in their ability to hear due to years of trauma to these delicate hair cells. Comprehension of sound becomes a lot harder due to the reduction of electrical impulses to the brain.
This progressive hearing loss is sometimes considered a normal and inconsequential part of the aging process, but research indicates that’s not accurate. The brain tries to decode any signals sent by the ear even if they are jumbled or unclear. That effort puts strain on the organ, making the person struggling to hear more susceptible to developing dementia.
Here are a few disease risk factors with hearing loss in common:
- Trouble learning new skills
- Memory impairment
- Reduction in alertness
- Overall diminished health
And the more significant your hearing loss the greater your risk of cognitive decline. Even mild hearing loss can double the danger of dementia. More significant hearing loss means three times the danger and somebody with extreme, neglected loss of hearing has up to five times the risk of developing dementia. Research by Johns Hopkins University tracked the cognitive skills of more than 2,000 older adults over a six-year period. Cognitive and memory problems are 24 percent more likely in people who have hearing loss extreme enough to disrupt conversation, according to this study.
Why is a hearing exam worthwhile?
Not everybody understands how even minor hearing loss impacts their overall health. Most individuals don’t even know they have hearing loss because it progresses so gradually. As hearing declines, the human brain adjusts gradually so it makes it less obvious.
We will be able to effectively evaluate your hearing health and monitor any changes as they happen with routine hearing exams.
Minimizing the danger with hearing aids
The present theory is that strain on the brain from hearing loss plays a major part in cognitive decline and different forms of dementia. So hearing aids should be able to reduce the risk, based on that fact. The stress on your brain will be decreased by using a hearing aid to filter out unwanted background noise while enhancing sounds you want to hear. The sounds that you’re hearing will get through without as much effort.
People who have normal hearing can still possibly develop dementia. What science believes is that hearing loss quickens the decline in the brain, increasing the chances of cognitive problems. The key to decreasing that risk is regular hearing exams to diagnose and manage gradual hearing loss before it can have an affect on brain health.
Contact us today to make an appointment for a hearing exam if you’re worried that you may be dealing with hearing loss.