Hearing loss is a serious matter than can affect people of all ages. With hearing loss comes a host of secondary health issues and one serious link that has been discovered is between hearing loss and dementia. Obviously, if you are a child or younger person suffering from hearing loss, dementia is not an issue. But, if you are an older person and suffer from hearing loss, understanding the connection hearing loss has with dementia is important.  

While the link between hearing loss and dementia is relatively new and needs a lot more research to understand how the two are actually linked, there are some basic theories that help explain the connection between the two health issues.  

Common physiological pathways

One idea of why hearing loss can be connected with dementia is that the same issue is to blame for both illnesses. Instead of one illness creating the other, a third health issue is to blame for both hearing loss and dementia. Problems like high blood pressure could be to blame. While this is an interesting theory, it is so far not the front-runner.  

Cognitive load

Dementia results in the decline of cognitive functions and there is some belief in the health community that hearing loss can lead to an overexertion of the brain, which in turns put too much stress on the organ. As a result, the brain starts to shut down which causes dementia. If you suffer from hearing loss, your brain has to work that much harder to try to understand and make sense of the sounds around you. If you are an older person, your brain may become weakened due to this stress.  

This is why getting treated for hearing loss is so important. If you have a hearing aid or cochlear implant, your brain doesn’t have to strain as much to comprehend what you’re hearing. These devices will not only improve your hearing but also allow you to attend to more tasks instead of focusing solely on hearing.  

Brain structure

The brain is designed to analyze millions of pieces of data. If the part of your brain designed for hearing suddenly doesn’t have a job to do, it can begin to shrink as it is no longer needed. When one part of your brain is impacted, the rest of your brain is as well thanks to the large network of neural pathways. There is hope, though, that even if brain cells in certain areas begin to shrink, intervention in the form of hearing aids could stimulate the areas and bring the brain back to its maximum production ability.  

Social isolation

Brian chemistry aside, hearing loss may cause dementia because of a lack of social stimulation. If you constantly have to ask your friends to repeat themselves or find that you can no longer follow a conversation, it is natural to withdraw from your social world. There have been numerous studies, however, that show that dementia can result in the inactivity of your brain and social activity is a fun way to keep yourself mentally active.