The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

The body is an intricately connected set of organs, tissue, and systems. We might not think about it all that often, but it’s common that any condition that affects one element could also impact another.

As an example, in our bodies, the nose and mouth exist in the same airway and are closely intertwined. If you have a stuffy nose and can’t smell, it’s harder to taste, right?

This is also true on a larger scale, with the impacts of hearing loss having widespread effects on the body.

What is Hearing Loss?

There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. They are all characterized by some degree of difficulty hearing, and each requires treatment. Hearing loss can be mild, meaning a person can hear some conversational speech, but soft sounds are hard to hear, or extremely severe where a person may only be able to hear extremely loud noises if anything at all.

What is Dementia?

As we age, it’s totally normal for many of our bodily functions and systems to be impacted. These changes can show themselves through slower movements, forgetfulness, and an increased likelihood of disease. Dementia, however, while it may include some symptoms of regular aging, is not a normal part of getting older. Dementia is different than simply forgetting where you placed your keys this morning. Symptoms of dementia might include forgetting your name or that you have children. Dementia is a general term for impaired ability to problem-solve, think, remember, or make decisions to the extent that it interferes with daily life.

How are Dementia and Hearing Loss Connected?

Dementia is caused by damage or changes to brain cells and their connections. Many common causes of hearing loss can be linked to aging – called presbycusis. So, how are the two possibly connected? Studies have shown that there is a link between dementia and hearing loss, but the exact relationship isn’t quite clear.

Findings and Relationships

One report found that if you experience hearing loss, you have a greater chance of developing dementia, to the extent that it’s one of the top risk factors. Another study found that the greater the hearing loss, the more likely subjects were to have concerns about their memory or thinking abilities.

The intricacies of the relationship between loss of hearing and dementia are still yet to be confirmed, but the impacts of hearing loss are definitely part of the puzzle. For instance, untreated hearing loss can force the brain to work harder because it has to strain to hear and fill in the sounds it might be missing.

Intellectual stimulation is also very nourishing for brain health. The inability to hear can lead to less social engagement, depression and loneliness, and hearing loss is also likely to shrink some parts of the brain that are responsible for auditory response.

Treating Hearing Loss to Improve Dementia Symptoms

While we don’t have all the details on how hearing loss and dementia are related, we do know that studies have convincing evidence that wearing hearing aids and cochlear implants is linked to positive impacts on cognitive decline. We can also say with certainty that untreated hearing loss does have negative impacts on the brain. So, while there are no hearing loss treatments specifically made for dementia patients, utilizing any treatment for hearing loss will have positive outcomes.

Book a Consultation with Amdahl Hearing

Studies haven’t shown that people can develop dementia due to hearing loss, but there is a definite link between hearing and cognitive ability. As with any disease, the best treatment is early treatment, so schedule a free screening with Amdahl Hearing as soon as you notice any changes in your hearing ability or that of a loved one.

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.