What’s the Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

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

Want to take all the joy out of your next family get-together? Start to talk about dementia.

Dementia is not a subject most people are actively seeking to talk about, mostly because it’s pretty scary. Dementia, which is a degenerative cognitive disease, causes you to lose a grip on reality, experience loss of memory, and causes an over-all loss of mental faculties. It’s not something anyone looks forward to.

For this reason, many individuals are seeking a way to counter, or at least delay, the development of dementia. There are several clear connections, as it turns out, between dementia and neglected hearing loss.

You may be surprised by that. After all, what does your brain have to do with your ears (a lot, it turns out)? Why are the dangers of dementia multiplied with hearing loss?

What happens when your hearing loss is neglected?

Maybe you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you’re not too concerned about it. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite program, you’ll just put on the captions.

But then again, maybe you haven’t detected your hearing loss yet. Perhaps the signs are still easy to dismiss. In either case, hearing loss and mental decline have a strong connection. That’s because of the effects of untreated hearing loss.

  • It becomes harder to understand conversations. You could begin to keep yourself isolated from others as a result of this. You might become removed from loved ones and friends. You won’t talk with others as often. This kind of social isolation is, well, bad for your brain. And naturally your social life. Further, most people 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 neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t get nearly as much audio information (this is kind of obvious, yes, but stick with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This will really exhaust your brain. Your brain will then need to get additional power from your memory and thought centers (at least that’s the present theory). The idea is that over time this contributes to dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Mental fatigue and exhaustion, along with other possible symptoms, can be the outcome of your brain having to work so hard.

You might have suspected that your hearing loss was more innocuous than it really is.

Hearing loss is one of the major indicators of dementia

Let’s say you just have mild hearing impairment. Like, you’re unable to hear whispers, but everything else sounds normal. Well, even with that, your chance of developing dementia is doubled.

So one of the initial signs of dementia can be even minor hearing loss.

So… How should we understand this?

Well, it’s essential not to forget that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss is not a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Rather, it simply means you have a greater risk of developing dementia or going through cognitive decline later in life. But there might be an upside.

Because it means that effectively managing your hearing loss can help you decrease your chance of cognitive decline. So how can you manage your hearing loss? Here are a few ways:

  • Schedule an appointment with us to identify your present hearing loss.
  • The impact of hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. So, can cognitive decline be stopped by using hearing aids? That’s not an easy question to answer, but we appreciate that brain function can be improved by wearing hearing aids. This is why: You’ll be able to participate in more discussions, your brain won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a bit more socially connected. Research suggests that treating hearing loss can help minimize your danger of developing dementia in the future. It won’t prevent dementia but we can still call it a win.
  • You can take a few measures to safeguard your hearing from further damage if you detect your hearing loss early enough. As an example, you could avoid noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re near anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).

Other ways to lower your dementia risk

You can reduce your risk of cognitive decline by doing some other things as well, of course. This might include:

  • Exercise is needed for good general health and that includes hearing health.
  • Eating more healthy food, especially one that helps you keep your blood pressure from going too high. Sometimes, medication can help here, some individuals simply have naturally higher blood pressure; those people could need medication sooner rather than later.
  • Stop smoking. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, and that includes your chance of developing cognitive decline (this list also includes drinking too much alcohol).
  • Make sure you get enough sleep every night. Some studies link less than four hours of sleep per night to a higher risk of dementia.

The link between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being examined by scientists. It’s a complicated disease with a matrix of causes. But the lower your risk, the better.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, over time, hearing better will reduce your overall risk of dementia. You’ll be improving your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more muffled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely visits to the grocery store.

It’s no fun missing out on life’s important moments. And taking steps to deal with your hearing loss, possibly by using hearing aids, can be a big help.

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.