Mature woman holding her hand up to her ear with grimace on her face

How Treating Hearing Loss Could Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

As we age, we often experience changes in our senses, including our hearing. For many, hearing loss is seen as a natural part of the aging process, but recent research suggests that there may be a link between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease. While the connection between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s is not yet fully understood, studies have shown that treating hearing loss could potentially prevent or delay cognitive decline. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind this link, the impact of hearing loss on our quality of life, how hearing loss is treated, and lifestyle changes we can make to prevent Alzheimer’s.

The Science Behind the Link

New studies reveal that losing your hearing might increase your chances of developing dementia later in life. In a 2020 study published in the Journal Neuron, Researchers analyzed the results of 36 studies that measured cognitive function and hearing tests, and they found a significant connection between hearing loss, cognitive impairment, and dementia.

Three studies, in particular, shed light on this frightening discovery. They followed people who were tested for hearing loss in midlife and observed them for over five years to see if they developed dementia. And guess what? Those with hearing loss had a 94% higher risk of developing dementia compared to others!

One of these groundbreaking studies tracked 639 people, aged 36 to 90, for a decade after they had their hearing checked. The results showed that as hearing loss increased, so did the risk of dementia. Shockingly, out of the 58 cases of dementia that developed, 63% were due to Alzheimer’s disease!

The other two studies in the analysis showed a similar trend, with one revealing that 51% of 79 dementia cases were nonvascular dementia (mainly Alzheimer’s), while the remaining cases were vascular.

So why is there a connection between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s? Researchers believe that hearing loss may lead to cognitive decline because of the additional effort required to understand speech. When individuals have difficulty hearing, their brains must work harder to fill in the gaps, which can cause cognitive fatigue and decrease their ability to process information.

How Hearing Loss Affects Our Quality of Life

Hearing loss can have a significant impact on our quality of life, beyond the obvious difficulty in understanding speech. Individuals with hearing loss often experience social isolation, which can lead to depression and other negative effects on mental health. It can be challenging to engage in conversations and maintain social connections when you’re struggling to hear. Additionally, individuals with hearing loss may experience a reduced sense of independence, as they may rely more heavily on others to communicate.

Treating Hearing Loss

The good news is that hearing loss is often treatable. Hearing aids and cochlear implants can significantly improve hearing and communication abilities. These devices work by amplifying sounds and filtering out background noise, making it easier to understand speech. Audiologists and other hearing healthcare professionals can help individuals choose the best hearing aids or cochlear implants for their needs and provide ongoing support and maintenance.

The Benefits of Early Intervention

Early intervention is key when it comes to treating hearing loss and preventing cognitive decline. The longer an individual goes without treatment, the harder their brain must work to process sound, which can lead to cognitive fatigue and potentially increase the risk of cognitive decline. Studies have shown that treating hearing loss with hearing aids can improve cognitive abilities and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Alzheimer’s

In addition to treating hearing loss, there are lifestyle changes that we can make to prevent Alzheimer’s. Physical exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to prevent cognitive decline. Engaging in regular physical activity can improve blood flow to the brain, which can help maintain cognitive function. Eating a healthy diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, can also help prevent cognitive decline. Finally, engaging in cognitive stimulation, such as brain games and puzzles, can help keep the brain active and healthy.

If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. At our hearing practice, we offer a variety of hearing aids and cochlear implants, as well as ongoing support and maintenance. Don’t let hearing loss hold you back from living your best life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward better hearing and cognitive health.