Why are People with Hearing Loss More Prone to Dementia?
The human brain is a marvelous creation. It has many attributes that combine to allow us to function in some unfathomable ways. The specifics are so complicated and microscopic that it takes only the smartest of our kind to understand them. We take for granted just how it works.
Our brain is the hub of our being. It sends signals to every organ and muscle, then receives answers back in order to understand and figure out how to proceed. Sometimes, however, due to one reason or another, the brain and body falter a little and things become a little more complicated. Hearing loss is something that is more common than you’d think, and it can cause more problems than just an inability to process noises. Studies have shown that people with hearing impairments are more prone to issues such as dementia. We don’t have all the answers just yet, but let’s delve into this idea a little further.
What causes hearing loss?
A person can be born with deficiencies in terms of their hearing, they can lose it in one fell swoop, or they can gradually lose it over time.
Sudden hearing loss can be caused by trauma to the head, loud noises or taking certain medications incorrectly. In terms of the gradual process, hearing loss can be caused by constant exposure to loud noises, infections, and natural aging. Statistically, around five percent of the world’s population have to deal with disabling hearing loss – that’s nearly four-hundred million people around the globe.
What specifically is dementia, and what causes it?
You may have come across someone with dementia before in your life. If you haven’t, then you would have heard stories from friends or relatives about how this deteriorating condition affects the individual and those around them. Dementia is a term used to describe how the brain slowly experiences a decline in function – people battling dementia experience severe memory loss, communication issues and the inability to think as clearly as they once could. At any given time, around fifty million people worldwide have dementia. It’s mainly linked with older people, but those in their thirties, forties and fifties have also been known to experience the cognitive decline.
It’s caused predominantly by Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia – when a lack of blood and oxygen reach the brain, causing a series of strokes.
How are the two linked?
While we haven’t quite managed to find all the answers yet, we have managed to learn that people with hearing loss do stand more of a chance of living with dementia further on down the line. We’ve even reached the point where we can say with some degree of confidence that hearing loss in old age is an early sign that dementia and similar issues may be on the way.
Some doctors and specialists have suggested that the social isolation brought on by hearing loss may be a factor, as isolation has been linked to dementia itself. Another point is that the brain’s division of labor may be affected as hearing is a big part of understanding certain things.
What evidence and statistics back this notion?
Many studies have taken place around the globe. One study showed that people with hearing loss were around 25% more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease. They found that the worse the hearing loss, the more chance of dementia being developed.
Another study showed that those with mild hearing issues were twice as likely to develop a cognitive decline later on in life. Those with modern hearing loss were three times as likely. People with severe hearing loss? Five times as likely. While we have limited scientific proof thus far; the numbers are beginning to make things look a little more vivid.
Can anything be done to prevent or remedy this?
There’s currently no concrete cure for dementia, but with what we know right now, it can perhaps be staved off a little longer, thus prolonging one’s quality of life. If hearing loss can be viewed as a warning sign, then improving a person’s hearing could boost their chances of being able to use their cognitive skills for much longer.
Of course, when someone’s hearing is impaired, there are many treatments that can be undergone. Hearing aids are your typical option, and they’ll do a reliable job in terms of boosting an individual’s ability to hear. If the social isolation and division of labor ideas are correct, then dementia could be kept away for a little while. Being proactive and checking with your doctor could also prevent this kind of issue – having professional, trained and experience audiologists and other specialists at the helm would stand you in much better stead than if you entered this battle alone. Contact the team at Audiology and Hearing Aid Services by calling at 912-351-3038 to find out how we can help you preserve your hearing.