The Link Between Hearing Loss & Dementia
As we get older, our bodies change. We go greyer and our skin changes, our bones become more brittle and we start to notice a decline in our eyesight. More than these things, though, we notice hearing loss and a need for additional support to hear well. As we get older, we also notice a decline in our ability to think cognitively, and there have been studies to show a link between hearing loss and dementia – especially when that hearing loss goes untreated and unaddressed.
During research, teams studying dementia and hearing loss noticed that brain shrinkage was the response to a lack of sound. Resources in the brain must make room and adjust to hearing loss, which leaves these resources in the brain unable to assist elsewhere. The other results of the study showed that the area of the temporal lobe is connected to the short-term storage of auditory information.
Hearing loss can lead to changes in brain activity, and this changes up the protein levels in the brain that are known to be connected to Alzheimer's disease. This then shows there is a connection between both. A disorder in the ear can lead to a degenerative issue in the brain, and the difficulty in hearing real world environments. Aging brings many different difficulties, but hearing loss and dementia are both that you would need to avoid as much as possible.
Prevention is better than a cure, and the research in 2018 by Harvard University studied hearing loss and dementia together, concluding that there was a link between dementia and senior adults who experience hearing loss. When we acknowledge this link between the two, we are better placed to take action to address hearing loss and find that changing the outcome is important for older adults.
Hearing loss should never go untreated
By ignoring signs and symptoms of hearing loss, dementia could be the result. Unaddressed hearing loss leads to those changes in the brain that affects hearing. There are a few factors that can lead to the onset of dementia and one cause is unaddressed hearing loss.
The use of hearing aids, however, can change this. With hearing aids supporting the brain getting the electrical signals that process sound, an individual can hear better in a way that's almost natural.
The brain will not compensate by relying on the other senses. When you are losing hearing, you notice that you start lip reading without trying to. This enables the brain to refocus and change the behavior of the brain.
Hearing aids can make a huge difference to your ability to live your life, and another option is cochlear implants for some individuals. These can aid in the prevention of the development of dementia, and while it's not always easy to deal with hearing loss, it's treatable and there is support with your audiologist out there.
How to take action
Hearing loss occurs for a number of reasons, from trauma to the ear and head to aging. It's important, therefore, that you do what you can to take action and ensure that you are getting the right support from your audiologist from the moment you realize that your hearing is being affected. Below, some of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss are listed:
- Muffled speech: Sound, speech and the noise you would usually hear are affected gradually when your hearing is declining. You may notice that some sounds are muffled compared to usual and the sounds of devices and other people are more muffled, too.
- Hearing in crowds: It's far harder for you to hear other people talking to you in crowded places when you are experiencing hearing loss. You may no longer be able to define who is saying what when you have noticed a decline in your hearing and it makes it much harder to socialize when this is the case.
- Dropped consonants: Often, people who experience hearing loss lose the ability to hear consonants first. This makes everyday speech harder to pick up, and conversation becomes harder than you'd expect it to be.
- Turning up devices: When you notice that you are constantly turning your phone, TV and other devices to top volume, you may be dealing with hearing loss.
- Difficulties with friends and family: You should be able to speak to family and friends, but when you can't hear what people are saying it's easy to withdraw into yourself.
Call an audiologist today
With the help of the experts at Audiology Associates, all you need to do is call us today at 573-332-7000 and you can get your hearing test booked today.