What’s the Connection Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

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 probably put a dark cloud above the entire event.

Dementia is not a subject most people are actively looking to talk about, mostly because it’s rather scary. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you gradually (or, more frighteningly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia causes you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory loss. No one wants to experience that.

So stopping or at least slowing dementia is important for many people. It turns out, untreated hearing loss and dementia have several pretty clear connections and correlations.

That might seem a bit… surprising to you. What does your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why does hearing loss increase chances of dementia?

What takes place when your hearing impairment goes untreated?

You realize that you’re beginning to lose your hearing, but it’s not at the top of your list of worries. It’s nothing that turning up the volume on your television won’t fix, right? Maybe you’ll just put on the captions when you’re watching your favorite show.

Or maybe your hearing loss has gone unnoticed so far. Perhaps the signs are still easy to dismiss. In either case, hearing loss and cognitive decline have a strong connection. That’s because of the effects of neglected hearing loss.

  • Conversation becomes more difficult to understand. Consequently, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You might become removed from loved ones and friends. You speak to others less. This type of social isolation is, well, bad for your brain. It’s not good for your social life either. Further, most individuals who have this type of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will be working harder. Your ears will collect less audio information when you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss. As a result, your brain tries to fill in the gaps. This is incredibly taxing. The present concept is, when this happens, your brain draws power from your thought and memory centers. It’s believed that this could quicken the development of dementia. Your brain working so hard can also result in all kinds of other symptoms, such as mental stress and exhaustion.

So your hearing loss is not quite as innocuous as you may have thought.

One of the principal signs of dementia is hearing loss

Maybe your hearing loss is mild. Like, you can’t hear whispers, but everything else sounds normal. Well, even with that, your chance of getting dementia is doubled.

Meaning that even mild hearing loss is a fairly good preliminary sign of a risk of dementia.

So… How should we interpret this?

We’re looking at risk in this situation which is relevant to note. Hearing loss isn’t an early symptom of dementia and there’s no guarantee it will lead to dementia. It does mean that later in life you will have a greater chance of developing cognitive decline. But there may be an upside.

Your risk of cognitive decline is decreased by effectively managing your hearing loss. So how can hearing loss be managed? Here are several ways:

  • Set up an appointment with us to diagnose your present hearing loss.
  • If your hearing loss is caught early, there are some steps you can take to safeguard your hearing. You could, for instance, wear ear protection if you work in a noisy environment and steer clear of noisy events like concerts or sporting events.
  • Wearing a hearing aid can help reduce the impact of hearing loss. So, can dementia be stopped by using hearing aids? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we recognize that brain function can be enhanced by using hearing aids. Here’s the reason why: You’ll be capable of participating in more discussions, your brain won’t have to work so hard, and you’ll be a little more socially involved. Your chance of developing dementia later in life is decreased by managing hearing loss, research implies. That’s not the same as preventing dementia, but it’s a good thing regardless.

Lowering your chance of dementia – other methods

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

  • A diet that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and is generally healthy can go a long way. For people who naturally have higher blood pressure, it could be necessary to take medication to bring it down.
  • Getting adequate sleep at night is essential. Some studies have linked a higher chance of dementia to getting fewer than four hours of sleep every night.
  • Exercise is needed for good overall health including hearing health.
  • Quit smoking. Seriously. Smoking will raise your chance of cognitive decline and will impact your general health (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).

Of course, scientists are still researching the link between dementia, hearing impairment, lifestyle, and more. It’s a complicated disease with an array of causes. But any way you can lower your risk is good.

Hearing is its own benefit

So, hearing better will help lower your general risk of developing cognitive decline in the future. You’ll be bettering your life now, not only in the future. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more quiet and lonely trips to the grocery store.

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

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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