What’s the Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

Hearing test showing ear of senior man with sound waves simulation technology

Want to suck all the fun out of your next family get-together? Start to talk about dementia.

Dementia isn’t a subject most people are intentionally seeking to talk about, mainly because it’s pretty frightening. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, makes you lose a grip on reality, experience memory loss, and causes an over-all loss of mental function. No one wants to experience that.

This is why many individuals are seeking a way to counter, or at least delay, the advancement of dementia. There are some clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and untreated hearing loss.

You may be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (lots, actually)? Why are the dangers of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?

What occurs when your hearing loss goes untreated?

Maybe you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you aren’t that concerned about it. You can just turn up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just turn on the captions.

On the other hand, perhaps you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still subtle. Mental decline and hearing impairment are clearly linked either way. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.

  • It becomes more difficult to understand conversations. You could start to keep yourself secluded from others as a result of this. You can draw away from family, friends, and loved ones. You speak to others less. This type of social isolation is, well, bad for your brain. And naturally your social life. Further, most people who have this kind of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will start to work a lot harder. Your ears will collect less audio information when you have untreated hearing loss. Because of this, your brain will attempt to fill in the gaps. This will really tire your brain out. The current theory is, when this takes place, your brain pulls power from your thinking and memory centers. It’s thought that this may speed up the onset of dementia. Your brain working so hard can also cause all kinds of other symptoms, such as mental stress and exhaustion.

So your hearing loss isn’t quite as innocuous as you might have believed.

Hearing loss is one of the primary signs of dementia

Let’s say you only have slight hearing loss. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else sounds just fine. Well, turns out you’re still twice as likely to develop dementia as somebody who does not have hearing loss.

Meaning that even mild hearing loss is a pretty good initial sign of a dementia risk.

Now… What does that suggest?

We’re looking at risk in this circumstance which is relevant to note. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it simply means you have a higher chance of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But that might actually be good news.

Because it means that successfully managing your hearing loss can help you reduce your chance of dementia. So how can hearing loss be controlled? Here are several ways:

  • Make an appointment with us to identify your present hearing loss.
  • Wearing a hearing aid can help decrease the affect of hearing loss. So, can dementia be avoided by using hearing aids? That isn’t an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be improved by wearing hearing aids. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t need to work so hard to carry on conversations. Research suggests that treating hearing loss can help reduce your danger of developing dementia when you get older. That isn’t the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
  • You can take some measures to protect your hearing from further harm if you catch your hearing loss early enough. You could, for instance, wear hearing protection if you work in a loud setting and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.

Other ways to lower your dementia risk

Of course, there are other things you can do to reduce your risk of dementia, too. Here are some examples:

  • Getting enough sleep at night is essential. There are studies that link fewer than four hours of sleep per night to an increase in the risk of dementia.
  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything bad, and that includes your risk of developing cognitive decline (this list also includes drinking too much alcohol).
  • Exercise is needed for good overall health including hearing health.
  • Eating a healthy diet, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from getting too high. Sometimes, medication can help here, some people just have naturally higher blood pressure; those individuals may need medication sooner than later.

Needless to say, scientists are still studying the connection between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complex disease with a matrix of causes. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, over time, hearing better will decrease your general risk of dementia. You’ll be improving your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more missed conversations, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely visits to the grocery store.

Missing out on the important things in life is no fun. And a little bit of hearing loss management, perhaps in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.

So call us today for an appointment.



The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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