Hearing Loss and Dementia: What’s the Link?

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

If you start talking about dementia at your next family gathering, you will most likely put a dark cloud above the whole event.

Dementia is not a topic most individuals are actively seeking to talk about, mainly because it’s rather frightening. A degenerative mental disease in which you slowly (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your mental faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory problems. Nobody wants to go through that.

So stopping or at least delaying dementia is a priority for many people. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have some pretty clear connections and correlations.

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

What takes place when your hearing loss goes untreated?

Perhaps you’ve noticed your hearing loss already, but you’re not that concerned about it. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just turn on the captions.

Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unnoticed so far. Maybe the signs are still subtle. In either case, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a solid correlation. That could have something to do with what occurs when you have neglected hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. You could begin to keep yourself isolated from others because of this. You can draw away from family, friends, and loved ones. You won’t talk with others as often. This type of social separation is, well, bad for your brain. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most individuals who have this sort of isolation won’t even know that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will be working harder. When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stay with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This is incredibly taxing. Your brain will then need to get extra power from your memory and thinking centers (at least that’s the current theory). The idea is that after a while this contributes to dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Mental stress and exhaustion, as well as other possible symptoms, can be the consequence of your brain having to work so hard.

You might have thought that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it actually is.

Hearing loss is one of the leading indicators of dementia

Let’s say you only have mild hearing impairment. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else is just fine. Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.

Which means that even minor hearing loss is a fairly strong preliminary sign of a risk of dementia.

Now… What does that suggest?

Well, it’s important not to forget that we’re talking about risk here. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there isn’t any guarantee it will lead to dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a higher chance of developing cognitive decline. But there could be an upside.

Because it means that effectively dealing with your hearing loss can help you lower your chance of cognitive decline. So how can hearing loss be addressed? Here are a few ways:

  • If your hearing loss is caught early, there are certain measures you can take to protect your hearing. You could, for instance, wear ear protection if you work in a noisy environment and avoid noisy events such as concerts or sporting events.
  • Set up an appointment with us to diagnose your current hearing loss.
  • The affect of hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. Now, can hearing aids stop cognitive decline? That’s hard to say, but hearing aids can boost brain function. Here’s why: You’ll be capable of participating in more conversations, your brain won’t need to work so hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Research indicates that managing hearing loss can help minimize your danger of developing dementia in the future. That isn’t the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.

Other ways to lower your dementia risk

You can minimize your chance of cognitive decline by doing some other things too, of course. Here are a few examples:

  • Getting enough sleep at night is imperative. Some studies have linked an increased risk of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep per night.
  • A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is good for your overall can go a long way. For individuals who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to take medication to lower it.
  • Quit smoking. Seriously. Smoking will increase your risk of dementia as well as impacting your overall health (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
  • Exercise is necessary for good general health and that includes hearing health.

The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. There are a multitude of causes that make this disease so complicated. But any way you can reduce your risk is good.

Hearing is its own benefit

So, over time, hearing better will decrease your overall risk of cognitive decline. But it’s not only your future golden years you’ll be improving, it’s right now. Imagine, no more solitary visits to the store, no more lost conversations, no more misunderstandings.

Missing out on the important things in life is no fun. And taking steps to deal with your hearing loss, perhaps by using hearing aids, can be really helpful.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us today!



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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