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Hearing Loss and Dementia: How are they connected?

The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

Hearing loss is a difficult condition to deal with on its own, but it can also put you at risk for developing other conditions like dementia. June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, so now is a great opportunity to understand how your brain can be impacted by hearing loss and what you can do to protect yourself.

What is dementia?

Dementia is the loss of memory and your ability to think and make decisions regularly. The most common form of dementia is known as Alzheimer’s disease and accounts for an estimated 60-80% of dementia cases. The biggest risk factor for developing dementia is age, but there are also other risks like family history, heart health, and hearing loss.

How is dementia connected to hearing loss?

You may think all your hearing is done in your ears, but it is really your brain that’s responsible for deciphering the sounds you hear and committing the information you retain to memory. When you are dealing with hearing loss, your brain has to work harder to understand those sounds. It puts stress on your brain. Hearing loss can also lead to social isolation. When you can’t hear or understand conversations with your loved ones, you start to withdraw from social settings. Not only does this take away some of your stimulation, but it can even lead to depression and anxiety. These are a few of the reasons that experts believe hearing loss causes your brain to atrophy at a quicker than normal pace and can lead to dementia.

What can I do?

You can lower your risk of dementia due to hearing loss by both protecting your current level of hearing and treating your hearing loss. Protect your hearing by avoiding loud noises like music at a high volume and crowded areas. Wear protection during noisy activities that you can’t avoid like mowing the lawn. If you are dealing with hearing loss, visiting a local hearing health professional can help you and discuss treatment options.

If you are experiencing hearing loss, or would like more information on the connection between hearing loss and dementia, call our office to schedule an appointment today.