Dementia and Hearing Loss
Hearing Loss and Dementia
The link between untreated hearing loss and development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
The link between hearing loss and dementia has been extensively researched in recent years. Studies have consistently found that older adults with hearing loss have a higher risk of developing dementia than those without hearing loss. In fact, one study found that the risk of dementia increased by 20% for every 10 decibels of hearing loss.
While the exact nature of the link is not fully understood, researchers have proposed several theories. One theory is that hearing loss can lead to social isolation, which in turn can contribute to the development of cognitive decline. Social isolation has been linked to negative effects on cognitive function and brain health, including a higher risk of developing dementia.
Another theory is that hearing loss places additional strain on the brain, which can lead to cognitive decline over time. The brain must work harder to process sounds when there is hearing loss, which can lead to cognitive overload and cognitive decline. Additionally, hearing loss can lead to changes in the brain's structure and function, which may contribute to the development of dementia.
Dementia is not a part of normal ageing
Dementia is not a specific disease but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Though dementia mostly affects older adults, it is not a part of normal ageing.
Common risk factors
It is also possible that both hearing loss and dementia share common risk factors, such as age, genetics, and certain medical conditions. For example, both hearing loss and dementia are more common in older adults, and both conditions have been linked to genetic factors. Some medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, have also been linked to an increased risk of both hearing loss and dementia.
Take steps early to prevent dementia
As evidence continues to mount that hearing loss is a contributing factor in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, it is imperative to understand the profound consequences of ignoring hearing loss.
Early identification and treatment of hearing loss is crucial. People with hearing loss on average wait seven years from when they are diagnosed to seek treatment, even though the sooner hearing loss is detected and treatment begins, the more hearing ability can be preserved.
In addition, promoting healthy hearing habits can help to reduce the risk of both hearing loss and dementia. This includes avoiding exposure to loud noises, wearing hearing protection when necessary, and maintaining good overall health. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have all been linked to a reduced risk of both hearing loss and dementia.