Many patients may avoid having their hearing tested and seeking care, but this can have serious consequences. One impact of hearing loss that many patients are surprised by is cognitive decline and dementia. New research suggests that there are multiple connections between hearing loss and dementia, but for many patients, hearing aids can help.
What is Dementia?
Dementia refers to a loss of memory, language, and problem-solving abilities among other cognitive issues, including emotional or behavioral problems, that can disrupt a patient’s daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, but other factors, such as depression, excessive alcohol use, and side effects from medication, can also result in dementia. Dementia occurs when the brain cells are damaged and can no longer effectively communicate with one another.
Does Hearing Loss Cause Dementia?
New research suggests that hearing loss can cause dementia. Epidemiological studies have found that in about a tenth of all dementia cases, hearing loss may be to blame.
It is believed that hearing loss causes dementia in three ways. First, patients who have hearing loss must utilize more brain resources to compensate for their lowered ability to hear. The temporal lobe is the area of the brain which processes both auditory information and short-term memory storage. It is also the first area to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease, so difficulty listening can potentially lead to a degenerative problem in this area.
Next, a lack of sound input to the brain can result in the cells being under stimulated and the brain shrinking as it no longer has to work to understand sound.
Finally, experts believe that there are common causes for both Alzheimer’s and hearing loss. This means that for some patients, hearing loss may not directly cause dementia; rather, their hearing loss and dementia are caused by the same underlying issue.
Can Hearing Aids Help Prevent Dementia?
If difficulty hearing can cause dementia, then it is possible that addressing hearing loss early could help prevent patients from developing dementia. Hearing aids can help relieve stress on the brain when you can no longer hear as well, allowing the temporal lobe to more easily process auditory information. At Hearing Doctors of New Jersey, our team uses the proprietary H.E.A.R. Method to fit patients to the best, most effective hearing aids for them. After a hearing assessment, our team will help determine the best plan to help you hear clearly again and prevent cognitive decline and dementia.
Schedule an Appointment
To schedule an appointment at Hearing Doctors of New Jersey, call (973) 577-4100 or request your appointment online.
If you are ready to take the next step towards better hearing, download our Free Guide on “The 7 Insider Secrets and Lies on Buying the Right Hearing Aid” immediately.