You may be surprised to learn that hearing loss and dementia are often comorbidities, that is, they can often happen at the same time. Untreated hearing loss is a risk factor for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and people with hearing loss may be more likely to experience rapid cognitive decline. The good news is that seeking hearing loss treatment could help prevent or delay dementia.
Looking at the Risk Factors for Dementia
In one recent report published in 2020, researchers from the University of Southern California found that “40% of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed by targeting 12 risk factors throughout life.” One of those risk factors is hearing loss. The report encourages those with hearing loss to seek early treatment and wear hearing aids. Treating hearing loss can reduce the risk of developing dementia. The study also recommends wearing hearing protection to prevent noise induced hearing loss.
Common Symptoms of Both Hearing Loss and Dementia
Did you know that there are a number of overlapping symptoms between hearing loss and dementia? Some of the symptoms that can signal either a hearing loss, dementia, or both, include:
- Difficulty concentrating on a task
- Having a hard time following a conversation
- Struggling to remember dates or plan future events
- Absent mindedness
What starts out as a hearing loss can lead to dementia if left untreated. Hearing loss tires your brain, and often leads to more rapid cognitive decline as some regions of the brain face degradation.
How Are Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked?
Living with untreated hearing loss has a major impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Hearing loss makes it harder for you to communicate with your loved ones, enjoy social events, or even safely walk around your neighborhood.
Hearing loss also affects your brain in profound ways. When you spend all your time straining to hear, you’ll experience listening fatigue. You put so much time and energy into listening that you don’t have any brain power left over for other tasks. You might not actually understand what you’re hearing, or consolidate what you’re hearing into memory. You may even be too exhausted to concentrate. Living with untreated hearing loss is linked to more rapid rates of cognitive decline as your brain gets overworked.
Hearing loss can also lead to cell death in the brain. The cells used to hear need to be in use to stay healthy. If you’ve had hearing loss for a while, these cells aren’t being exercised. In a case of “use it or lose it” many of these cells can die.
What You Can Do to Prevent or Delay Dementia
As pointed out in the 2020 study, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of developing dementia later in life. One of the first things you should do is look after your hearing health. When you treat your hearing loss, you’re doing a number of great things for your brain. First, you get relief from listening fatigue, and clear up your headspace to focus on other things besides just hearing. Next, you’re more likely to be social, see friends, and have conversations with family. This is the kind of healthy exercise your brain needs to stay strong. Treating your hearing loss also slows the rate of cognitive decline, improves your memory, and keeps your mind sharp.
Hearing Aids Can Prevent or Delay Dementia
If you have hearing loss, look into hearing aids! These sleek, sophisticated devices will change the way you interact with your loved ones and with the world around you. Hearing aids are calibrated to match your exact hearing needs, so you can hear as many of the sounds around you as possible. You’ll easily identify where sounds are coming from, and follow every word in conversations with loved ones.
To find the right hearing aids, contact us today! We work with the world’s top hearing aid manufacturers to bring you the best in hearing technology. Schedule a hearing test with our hearing health specialists, and together we’ll discover more about your hearing loss. Then, we’ll go over all your hearing aid options to find the devices that fit your lifestyle and help you hear when you need it the most.