Hearing aids have become the go-to treatment for hearing loss for decades. It’s basically one of the most important medical discoveries in history and has helped improve the lives of thousands of people. But did you know that a hearing aid is also capable of reducing the risk of developing dementia in older people? Let’s explore what this relatively new discovery is and how people can benefit from it.
The Negative Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss
If left untreated, hearing loss can result in a variety of different effects on a patient’s body. Social isolation and lack of interaction are two of the most common effects. This can easily lead to negative emotions like depression, low self-esteem, loneliness, or even reclusiveness. Not being able to hear your surroundings is bad enough on its own. But seeing that people refuse to communicate with you because of your condition is even worse. This is where hearing aids come in to help you regain what you lost and interact again with your environment and the people around you.
How do Hearing Aids Help with Hearing Loss?
A hearing aid is designed to amplify the sounds going into your ear. They are most often prescribed for people who have a particular type of hearing loss known as “sensorineural,” which is where the tiny hair cells of the inner ear are damaged. These tiny hairs are crucial to delivering sound waves to your auditory nerve. By having very little of it, a patient can have a hard time hearing. With a hearing aid, however, the surviving healthy hair cells can pick up the amplified sound from the hearing aid and send it as neural signals to your auditory nerve.
Hearing Aids and Dementia
As mentioned above, hearing aids can significantly reduce the risk of physical and mental decline. Experts just didn’t know up to what extent. However, a breakthrough study in 2019 has revealed that there is actually a connection between dementia and hearing loss. The study observed the association between hearing aids and time to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia among adults aged 66 years old and above. The researchers have found that someone with moderate hearing loss can have a five times greater risk of cognitive decline leading to dementia. By prescribing a hearing aid to a patient with hearing loss, that risk is significantly reduced. The earlier the intervention to correct the hearing loss, the better.
However, please do remember that there is still no conclusive evidence that shows if dementia can be reversed by hearing aids once the symptoms have already manifested. While a hearing aid can still benefit the patient in other ways, the symptoms of dementia remain to be unaffected once it’s taken hold. That’s why it’s essential to diagnose a person with hearing loss as quickly as possible so they can start using a hearing aid and prevent the risks from ever increasing.
Hearing loss and dementia are two serious conditions that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Despite hearing loss being considered a “normal” part of aging, the apparent physical and mental decline that can result from it is far from being normal or acceptable.
Hear More Associates is comprised of the most trusted hearing specialists in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Lexington, and the Greater Boston area. Caring for your hearing health is our mission, and specialists offer honest and transparent services whenever you need them. Visit any of our five clinics today and let us guide you on your hearing journey.