Untreated hearing loss can reduce your thinking ability and increase your risk of dementia. For example
- People with mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss had twofold, threefold, and fivefold increased risk.
- More than 36.4% of the risk of dementia was accounted for by hearing loss in people 60 and older.
- For Alzheimer's disease, risk increases by 20% for every 10 decibels of hearing loss. In other words, a mild loss of hearing has a significant impact on risk.
Below are scans of two different brains with the left and right halves positioned side by side. Hearing loss has damaged the brain on the left side, resulting in a considerable loss of brain tissue. The 40% loss of gray matter is permanent. The scan on the right side shows a normal brain.
Brain-saving technology isn’t an exaggeration. Treating hearing loss with hearing aids helps preserve brain function. Hearing aids accomplish this by ensuring sound information reaches your brain for optimal function. You don’t want your brain to shrink like the brain on the left side in the image above.
Treating hearing loss as early is possible limits the amount of permanent damage.
Don't be fooled
The challenge with hearing loss is detecting it. It’s tricky because when you’ve lost hearing, you can still hear. Most hearing loss is gradual and very difficult to sense in ourselves. It’s not uncommon for your friends and family to notice your hearing loss before you do.
In the early stages of hearing loss, you’re unaware of how much you’ve lost. But don’t fool yourself: Even mild hearing loss — an amount you’re unlikely to recognize — still damages your brain and increases your risk of dementia.
Signs of hearing loss
Ask yourself the following 11 questions developed by the National Institutes of Health. If you answer "Yes" to three or more items, schedule a hearing screening with an audiologist. An audiologist can accurately determine the amount you've lost (if any) and whether you should treat it.
Schedule a hearing screening
Don’t put off getting your hearing screened because delaying only increases brain damage. Identify and treat hearing loss as soon as possible to keep your brain healthy. Our free, 15-minute hearing screenings are an easy way to fend off the health risks of hearing loss.
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