Have you ever wondered why the elderly population who suffers from untreated hearing loss also oftentimes experiences some degree of memory loss? Could simply failing to tend to your hearing problems lead to major memory disorders, such as dementia?
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, more than 48 million Americans live with hearing loss. The senior community makes up the largest percentage of this population, with two-thirds of individuals in their 70’s facing some level of difficulties in hearing.
Not treating this condition may increase the risk of cognitive problems, primarily including dementia. In several recent studies, results have indicated a direct association between hearing loss and dementia.
A study conducted by John Hopkins University of 600 older adults with beginning stages of hearing loss found that those who have some degree of hearing loss are much more likely to develop dementia than adults with normal hearing. The risk grows larger as the level of hearing loss worsens.
With only a mild hearing loss, your risk of developing dementia increases by 89%. Adults with untreated moderate hearing loss are three times more likely to acquire the condition, while individuals with severe hearing loss are five times more likely to develop dementia than those without any hearing problems.
You may wonder why does hearing loss lead to the widespread disorder of dementia. Well, evidence suggests that untreated hearing loss for a long duration of time actually shrinks the brain, and those cells that are lost are unlikely to return.
If you are experiencing hearing loss, then your brain places more effort than normal into decoding sounds and processing the speech. This additional strain robs the brain of other cognitive activities.
In order to hear, the brain has to now borrow from other parts outside of the auditory cortex. The more the brain borrows from other sections, often the memory or problem-solving areas, the more it takes away from the brain’s normal functioning ability.
Failure to simply not treat your hearing loss may mean traveling down a path that leads to dementia, a chronic memory disorder that can have devastating results on your quality of life. For every 25 decibels of untreated hearing loss, an individual may experience up to nine years of cognitive delay.
As aging occurs, natural damage to the hearing nerves happens simultaneously, leading to hearing loss. There is nothing you can do to prevent this from happening.
However, the good news is that about 90% of all hearing loss conditions can be treated. Having your hearing loss diagnosed and treated at the beginning stages can be a step in the right direction of preventing cognitive disorders, such as dementia.
While you may not have any control over losing your hearing, you can decide to protect your brain health and continue having a good quality of life by having your hearing loss treated early. If you are experiencing any hearing problems, make an appointment with us today. Your brain will thank you!