Why You Should Schedule a Hearing Test This World Alzheimer’s Month

Why You Should Schedule a Hearing Test This World Alzheimer's Month

In 2012 a global campaign to raise awareness about dementia declared September World Alzheimer’s Month!  In honor of this important campaign you should protect your brain health by scheculing an appointment to have your hearing tested. “Why,” you ask? Studies have shown a significant connection between dementia and hearing loss. Let us explain.

What is dementia, how is it different from Alzheimer’s Disease?

According to the CDC website, “Dementia is not a specific disease but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities” Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia, and makes up 70% of the people suffering from this condition.   A few other types include Parkinson’s, Lewy Body, fronto-temporal, and vascular dementia. 

There are billions of cells in the brain that communicate with each other and the body to perform and manage tasks as complicated as doing your taxes or as seemingly simple as breathing. Different types of dementia function in different ways, but they all damage nerve cells in the brain.  This can cause a range of symptoms, such as loss of word recall to personality changes and will progress over time. Even early symptoms can deeply impact a person’s ability to function independently and require assistance with day-to-day tasks. Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates that as of 2020 there are 55 million people living with dementia internationally. This number is projected to rise, reaching 139 million by 2050.

Dementia is irreversible and progressive, which means that there is currently no cure and the symptoms will gradually worsen over time. Luckily there is currently substantial research on prevention and effective ways people can reduce the risk of contracting these diseases. Many studies have shown that hearing loss is a significant risk factor and treating hearing loss can protect brain health and reduce the risk of dementia.

How Are Hearing Loss & Dementia Connected?

Hearing is not isolated to your ears; it only begins there.  Sounds are picked up by vibrations in tiny hairs located in the inner ear called Cilia.  The vibrations that the cilia pick up are sent to the brain for processing. Many parts of the brain are involved in processing these signals. Through a process we are still trying to decipher, the brain assigns meaning to these vibrations and allows us to understand what we hear. Since so many parts of the brain are involved, it makes some sense that hearing loss can impact the brain. Numerous studies have corroborated this theory and shown a clear connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline.

One example of such studies was published in 2019 by the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School studied 10,107 participants, 62 years old and above. By evaluating their hearing and cognitive capacities over an 8-year period they found that people with hearing loss were much more likely to experience cognitive decline. The worse the hearing loss, the more likely they were to experience cognitive decline.  Compared to participants without hearing loss, cognitive decline was only 30% more likely among people with mild hearing loss, but 54% higher among people with severe hearing loss.

This is serious cause for concern for those with hearing loss. Thankfully, hearing loss is treatable, and those treatments can help alleviate this risk.

Ways to treat hearing loss and improve brain health

If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss do not delay your treatment! Ask your doctor to make an appointment with a hearing professional to begin your treatment.  Depending on what kind of hearing loss you are experiencing and other factors like your lifestyle your doctor will develop a treatment plan. Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss but there are also some medical and surgical treatments that are sometimes suggested. If you don’t know anyone with hearing aids today you might be picturing big, bulky, ugly instruments.  This is no longer the case! Hearing aids have become smaller, lighter and more comfortable. Also, the technology has improved greatly, and advancements happen every day.  There are now hearing aids to match many types of lifestyle and fashion needs.  Not only will these important devices increase your ability to navigate life around you, they can help improve your brain health and greatly reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Schedule an appointment with us today!

In 2012 a global campaign to raise awareness about dementia declared September World Alzheimer’s Month!  In honor of this important campaign you should protect your brain health by scheculing an appointment to have your hearing tested. “Why,” you ask? Studies have shown a significant connection between dementia and hearing loss. Let us explain.

What is dementia, how is it different from Alzheimer’s Disease?

According to the CDC website, “Dementia is not a specific disease but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities” Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia, and makes up 70% of the people suffering from this condition.   A few other types include Parkinson’s, Lewy Body, fronto-temporal, and vascular dementia. 

There are billions of cells in the brain that communicate with each other and the body to perform and manage tasks as complicated as doing your taxes or as seemingly simple as breathing. Different types of dementia function in different ways, but they all damage nerve cells in the brain.  This can cause a range of symptoms, such as loss of word recall to personality changes and will progress over time. Even early symptoms can deeply impact a person’s ability to function independently and require assistance with day-to-day tasks. Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates that as of 2020 there are 55 million people living with dementia internationally. This number is projected to rise, reaching 139 million by 2050.

Dementia is irreversible and progressive, which means that there is currently no cure and the symptoms will gradually worsen over time. Luckily there is currently substantial research on prevention and effective ways people can reduce the risk of contracting these diseases. Many studies have shown that hearing loss is a significant risk factor and treating hearing loss can protect brain health and reduce the risk of dementia.

How Are Hearing Loss & Dementia Connected?

Hearing is not isolated to your ears; it only begins there.  Sounds are picked up by vibrations in tiny hairs located in the inner ear called Cilia.  The vibrations that the cilia pick up are sent to the brain for processing. Many parts of the brain are involved in processing these signals. Through a process we are still trying to decipher, the brain assigns meaning to these vibrations and allows us to understand what we hear. Since so many parts of the brain are involved, it makes some sense that hearing loss can impact the brain. Numerous studies have corroborated this theory and shown a clear connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline.

One example of such studies was published in 2019 by the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School studied 10,107 participants, 62 years old and above. By evaluating their hearing and cognitive capacities over an 8-year period they found that people with hearing loss were much more likely to experience cognitive decline. The worse the hearing loss, the more likely they were to experience cognitive decline.  Compared to participants without hearing loss, cognitive decline was only 30% more likely among people with mild hearing loss, but 54% higher among people with severe hearing loss.

This is serious cause for concern for those with hearing loss. Thankfully, hearing loss is treatable, and those treatments can help alleviate this risk.

Ways to treat hearing loss and improve brain health

If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss do not delay your treatment! Ask your doctor to make an appointment with a hearing professional to begin your treatment.  Depending on what kind of hearing loss you are experiencing and other factors like your lifestyle your doctor will develop a treatment plan. Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss but there are also some medical and surgical treatments that are sometimes suggested. If you don’t know anyone with hearing aids today you might be picturing big, bulky, ugly instruments.  This is no longer the case! Hearing aids have become smaller, lighter and more comfortable. Also, the technology has improved greatly, and advancements happen every day.  There are now hearing aids to match many types of lifestyle and fashion needs.  Not only will these important devices increase your ability to navigate life around you, they can help improve your brain health and greatly reduce your risk of cognitive decline. Schedule an appointment with us today!