What’s the Link Between Hearing Impairment and Dementia?

Hearing test showing ear of senior man with sound waves simulation technology

Want to suck all the fun out of your next family gathering? Start to talk about dementia.

The subject of dementia can be very scary and most individuals aren’t going to purposely discuss it. A degenerative cognitive disease in which you gradually (or, more terrifyingly, quickly) lose your cognitive faculties, dementia forces you to lose touch with reality, go through mood swings, and have memory problems. It isn’t something anyone looks forward to.

So preventing or at least delaying dementia is a priority for many individuals. It turns out, neglected hearing loss and dementia have some pretty clear connections and correlations.

That may seem a bit… surprising to you. What could your brain have to do with your ears after all? Why are the dangers of dementia increased with hearing loss?

What takes place when your hearing loss goes untreated?

Maybe you’ve detected your hearing loss already, but you aren’t that worried about it. You can simply crank up the volume, right? Maybe, when you watch your favorite show, you’ll just turn on the captions.

On the other hand, perhaps you haven’t noticed your hearing loss yet. Maybe the signs are still easy to ignore. Cognitive decline and hearing impairment are firmly connected either way. That may have something to do with what occurs when you have untreated hearing loss.

  • It becomes more difficult to understand conversations. As a result, you may begin isolating yourself socially. You might become distant from loved ones and friends. You’ll talk to others less. It’s bad for your brain to isolate yourself this way. Not to mention your social life. Further, most people who have this type of isolation won’t even recognize that hearing loss is the cause.
  • Your brain will be working harder. When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears don’t pick up nearly as much audio information (this is sort of obvious, yes, but stick with us). This will leave your brain filling in the missing info. This is extremely taxing. The present concept is, when this happens, your brain pulls power from your thought and memory centers. The thinking is that after a while this results in dementia (or, at least, helps it progress). Your brain working so hard can also result in all kinds of other symptoms, like mental fatigue and exhaustion.

So your hearing loss isn’t quite as harmless as you might have thought.

One of the principal indicators of dementia is hearing loss

Let’s say you only have mild hearing impairment. Whispers might get lost, but you’re able to hear everything else so…no big deal right? Well, even with that, your risk of getting dementia is doubled.

So one of the initial indications of dementia can be even mild hearing loss.

Now… What does that suggest?

Well, it’s important not to forget that we’re dealing with risk here. Hearing loss isn’t a guarantee of dementia or even an early symptom of dementia. Instead, it simply means you have a greater chance of developing dementia or experiencing cognitive decline later in life. But there might be an upside.

Your risk of dementia is lowered by successfully managing your hearing loss. So how do you deal with your hearing loss? There are numerous ways:

  • Come see us so we can help you determine any hearing loss you may have.
  • Wearing a hearing aid can help reduce the affect of hearing loss. Now, can hearing aids stop cognitive decline? That’s difficult to say, but hearing aids can boost brain function. This is why: You’ll be more socially involved and your brain won’t have to work so hard to have conversations. Research indicates that managing hearing loss can help reduce your danger of developing dementia when you get older. That’s not the same as stopping dementia, but it’s a good thing nonetheless.
  • If your hearing loss is caught early, there are some measures you can take to safeguard your hearing. As an example, you could avoid noisy events (like concerts or sports games) or use hearing protection when you’re near anything noisy (for example, if you work with heavy machinery).

Lowering your risk of dementia – other methods

You can reduce your chance of dementia by doing some other things as well, of course. This could include:

  • Don’t smoke. Seriously. It just makes everything worse, including your risk of developing dementia (this list also includes excessive alcohol use).
  • A diet that keeps your blood pressure down and is generally healthy can go a long way. Sometimes, medication can help here, some individuals simply have naturally higher blood pressure; those people may need medication sooner rather than later.
  • Getting enough sleep at night is essential. Some studies link less than four hours of sleep each night to a higher risk of dementia.
  • Exercise is needed for good general health and that includes hearing health.

The connection between lifestyle, hearing loss, and dementia is still being researched by scientists. It’s a complicated disease with a matrix of causes. But any way you can lower your risk is good.

Being able to hear is its own advantage

So, over time, hearing better will decrease your general risk of cognitive decline. You’ll be bettering your life now, not just in the future. Imagine, no more missed discussions, no more garbled misunderstandings, no more silent and lonely trips to the grocery store.

It’s no fun losing out on life’s important moments. And a little bit of hearing loss management, possibly in the form of a hearing aid, can help considerably.

So make sure to schedule an appointment with us right away!



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.


    Parkside Audiology

    Tampa, FL

    3825 Henderson Blvd
    Suite 600
    Tampa, FL 33629

    Call or Text: 813-686-6858

    Mon-Thu: 8am – 4:30pm
    Friday, By appointment only

    Tampa, FL Google Business Profile

    Schedule Online

    Find out how we can help!

    Call or Text Us