Hearing Loss and Dementia 

Understanding Dementia


Dementia is a category of brain disorders contributing to the loss of social and mental capacity causing difficulty with daily living activities.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, leading to problems with memory, actions, and thought. For people with Alzheimer's disease, the connections between brain cells break down and die slowly, resulting in a progressive decline in mental function.

Dementia is thought to be caused by brain structures called plaques and tangles, which damage the brain cells.

  • Plaques are protein particle deposits that accumulate between nerve fibers in the spaces.
  • Tangles are protein fiber twisted that builds up inside cells.

While all people develop both plaques and tangles, people with dementia develop much more, spreading from brain areas that regulate memory to other parts of the brain.

Hearing Loss and Dementia

What is Dementia?

People with mild to severe hearing loss have a fivefold likelihood of developing dementia. According to the most recent research, older adults with hearing loss are more likely than those with normal hearing to develop Alzheimer's disease and dementia. People with hearing loss were 69% more likely than those without hearing impairment to develop dementia.

If a person's hearing loss worsens, the risk escalates. People with a moderate hearing loss are about twice as likely as those with normal hearing to develop dementia. The risk for those with mild hearing loss increases threefold and fivefold for those with a severe hearing impairment.

How hearing loss could lead to dementia


While work is ongoing, the link between hearing loss and dementia can be explained by three potential causes.
  • The first applies to psychological isolation. Recent studies have shown that perceived isolation or loneliness in predicting a range of adverse health consequences is more important than actual isolation. It is undoubtedly the individual’s experience of hearing loss on significant social occasions. They feel more alone than ever, even though people surround them. And dementia has long been linked to social isolation.

  • Cognitive load is another possibility. Untreated hearing loss provides our brains with jumbled sound signals that force our minds to work harder than they ought to when listening and understanding others. That removes resources from other brain areas. This substantial cognitive burden can be the precursor to triggering dementia.

  • A third relation is that of brain shrinkage. If the part of the brain responsible for hearing is impaired, it can result in tissue loss and changes in brain structure, as the brain no longer uses it. The latest work has shown that hearing damaged brains shrink — or atrophy — faster than people with healthy hearing brains.

Hearing aids could reduce the risk of dementia


By treating hearing loss with hearing aids, you provide the brain with more precise sound signals, allowing it to spread its energy equally to various areas of focus, such as balance and memory.

Moreover, coping with hearing loss helps you maintain ties with your friends and loved ones. This ensures that you are less likely to experience social isolation, which, in effect, decreases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
  
Using hearing aids can alleviate mental discomfort, promote better listening, and improve your quality of life. It's possible to substantially lower your risk of developing dementia, and the first step could be as simple as taking a hearing test with us.