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Hearing Loss and Dementia: How are they connected?

Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s: What You Should Know About Your Brain Health

We usually associate hearing with our ears, but did you know you mostly hear with your brain? Your brain is responsible for identifying the sounds and retaining information, so it’s especially important to understand how hearing loss impacts the health and longevity of your brain function. Here’s what you should know about your brain and hearing loss:

Age is Not the Only Risk Factor for Dementia

Dementia is the term used to describe the loss of memory and ability to make decisions and think. It can also impact your personality and your emotional control. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of cases. Dementia and types of dementia are most common among adults over age 65, but age is not the only contributor to developing dementia. Other risk factors include genetics, heart health, and hearing loss. People with hearing loss are up to five times more at risk for developing dementia.

Your Brain Works Harder with Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss can put excess strain on your brain. When you struggle to hear, your brain cannot process information as well as it should. You miss out on certain sounds and details, so your brain tries to fill in the gaps. Experts believe that this contributes to a faster rate of brain atrophy.

Social Isolation from Hearing Loss Affects Your Brain

One of the common effects that comes along with hearing loss is a feeling of social isolation. You might struggle to understand conversations with your friends and family, or with your coworkers. This might cause you to withdraw from social scenarios and feel isolated. Not only does this remove a lot of your outside stimulation, but it can cause you to feel depressed and anxious.

You Can Protect Your Hearing and Your Brain

Understanding the connection between hearing loss and dementia is the first step to protecting yourself and reducing your risk. You can also take measures to avoid high-decibel noises and environments, or wear hearing protection when avoidance isn’t possible. If you are currently dealing with hearing loss, hearing aids might be a viable treatment for you. That’s why visiting your local hearing health provider is the best way to preserve your hearing.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, which is the perfect opportunity for you to take control of your hearing and brain health. You may not be able to change your age or genetic risks of developing dementia, but you can take action to mitigate your risk from hearing loss.

If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, reach out to our office today to schedule an appointment and discuss treatment options.