February 02, 2022

Examining the Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

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It’s believed that around one-third of people older than 65 in the United States experience hearing loss, and much of it goes unreported because people either don’t realize they have a problem or don’t want to have it checked out.

Due to that, only around one in five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually use one. But letting hearing loss go unchecked can be detrimental for your brain health.

Centers Health Care has the details on the link between hearing loss and dementia.

Your Brain: Use It or Lose It

While the ears capture the sound, your brain interprets and processes the sound into something that you can understand. If you are unable to hear, the part of the brain that’s responsible for that can begin to atrophy, changing the brain’s tissue and structure. This can eventually lead to different forms of dementia and can also affect your balance, leading to people with hearing loss being more susceptible to falls.

On the other hand, the brain can also be overloaded by those with hearing loss. That’s because it is working extra hard to try to process sounds that are low and muffled. That strain can have an effect on the brain and cause it to fatigue easily, and in addition, other parts of the brain can begin to be reassigned to try and decipher sounds.

Social Effects of Hearing Loss

Those who suffer from hearing loss, especially if it’s untreated, tend to struggle to function independently. That often leads to social isolation due to being unable to participate in activities that they once enjoyed. And as was a concern during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation can lead to a host of physical and mental conditions in seniors.

Can This Be Prevented?

Yes, cognitive decline due to hearing loss can be prevented if actual hearing issues are discovered. A baseline hearing screening should be part of your annual healthcare plan. Problems can be detected before they are even noticeable to you. Talk to your doctor if he believes one is necessary now or at what age you should start.

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