Hearing Services of Nashville

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.

Dementia isn’t a topic most individuals are actively looking to talk about, mostly because it’s pretty frightening. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you gradually (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, experience mood swings, and have memory problems. No one wants to go through that.

So preventing or at least slowing dementia is a priority for many individuals. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have several fairly clear connections and correlations.

You may be surprised by that. What does 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 is neglected?

You realize that you’re starting to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of worries. It’s nothing that turning up the volume on your tv won’t fix, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just turn on the captions.

Or perhaps your hearing loss has gone undetected so far. Maybe the signs are still easy to disregard. Cognitive decline and hearing loss are strongly connected either way. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. As a result, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You can draw away from friends, family, and loved ones. You won’t talk with people as often. It’s bad for your brain to separate yourself this way. And naturally your social life. Additionally, many people who experience hearing loss-related social isolation don’t even realize it’s happening, and they probably won’t attribute their solitude to their hearing.
  • Your brain will begin to work a lot harder. Your ears will get less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. Because of this, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This will really tire your brain out. The current concept is, when this occurs, your brain pulls power from your thought and memory centers. It’s believed that this may quicken the development of dementia. Mental fatigue and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the result of your brain needing to work so hard.

So your hearing impairment is not quite as innocuous as you might have thought.

One of the leading signs of dementia is hearing loss

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

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

Now… What does that suggest?

We’re considering risk in this situation which is important to note. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Instead, it just means you have a higher risk of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But there may be an upside.

Because it means that successfully managing your hearing loss can help you lower your risk of cognitive decline. So how do you deal with your hearing loss? Here are a few ways:

  • The impact of hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be stopped by wearing hearing aids? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be enhanced by wearing hearing aids. Here’s why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t have to work so hard to carry on discussions. Research implies that managing hearing loss can help reduce your risk of developing dementia in the future. That isn’t the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.
  • You can take a few measures to protect your hearing from further harm if you catch your hearing loss early enough. For example, you could steer clear of noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or wear hearing protection when you’re near anything loud (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).
  • Set up an appointment with us to identify your current hearing loss.

Lowering your risk of dementia – other strategies

You can reduce your risk of dementia by doing some other things too, of course. This could include:

  • Exercise is necessary for good overall health including hearing health.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, including your chance of developing cognitive decline (excess alcohol use can also go on this list).
  • A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is generally healthy can go a long way. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it may be necessary to take medication to bring it down.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep each night. Some studies link less than four hours of sleep each night to an increase in the risk of dementia.

The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. It’s a complex disease with a matrix of causes. But any way you can lower your risk is good.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, over time, hearing better will decrease your general risk of cognitive decline. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more solitary trips to the store, no more confused conversations, no more misunderstandings.

It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to manage your hearing loss, maybe by using hearing aids, can be a big help.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!

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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.
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