Know Alzheimer's Disease Treat Hearing Loss in September during World Alzheimer's Month(23).jpg

World Alzheimer’s Month is a great reminder to prioritize your hearing health! You can participate in this international campaign by scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. Treating hearing loss can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and experiencing neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s. 

World Alzheimer’s Month

Launched in 2012, World Alzheimer’s Month is a global campaign that focuses on raising awareness and challenging the stigma associated with dementia – several conditions that progressively reduce cognitive functions. 50 million people worldwide live with dementia, a figure that is projected to increase. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s which accounts for up to 90% of all dementia experienced today. Alzheimer’s gradually reduces cognitive capacities that oversee decision-making, memory, learning, and thinking. It often starts with subtle forgetfulness or memory loss and can progressively evolve into difficulty remembering loved ones, inability to complete tasks, and difficulty participating in conversations. This often leads to personality and behavioral changes that can take a toll on individuals as well as relationships. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible and permanent disease so identifying ways to mitigate its development is critical. 

Though exact causes of Alzheimer’s remain unknown, there is significant emphasis placed on identifying and addressing risk factors. Extensive research has established hearing loss as a condition that can contribute to cognitive decline. Early intervention and treatment of hearing loss not only transforms hearing health but also brain health, potentially preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s. 

Impact of Hearing Loss on Brain Health

Hearing loss happens in both the ears and the brain. Various studies that investigate how the brain is impacted by hearing loss, find that impaired hearing can reduce the activity of the specific areas responsible for processing sound which contributes to cognitive decline. This includes a 2015 study conducted by researchers in the Department of Speech Language and Hearing Science at the University of Colorado. After collecting and analyzing electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings of people with different degrees of hearing loss, researchers found that compared to people without, people with hearing loss experienced:

  • decreased activity in the hearing portions of the brain
  • brain reorganization in areas that oversee the processing of visual patterns

This reduced activity and changing of neural networks weakens portions of the brain which can contribute to cognitive decline. Researchers also suggest that another way the brain is impacted by hearing loss is by social withdrawal. Avoiding social activities and interactions is a common effect of hearing loss which results in less stimulation and engagement for the brain; also contributing to cognitive decline. 

Treating Hearing Loss Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s

Fortunately, there are effective ways to treat hearing loss that yield life-changing benefits. Taking a hearing test establishes your hearing needs by measuring hearing ability in both ears. This establishes any hearing loss, the degree of impairment, and specific type of hearing loss you are experiencing. Yoru hearing healthcare provider is then able to recommend effective treatment options that can meet those needs. 

The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are savvy, electronic devices that are designed to absorb and process sound. Providing the auditory system with ample support, hearing aids maximize hearing capacity across all environments. Not only does this profoundly enhance hearing, but it also strengthens communication. This has multifaceted effects on all aspects of life: improving relationships, job performance, social life, and overall health. 

Research shows that hearing aids are also beneficial for brain health, strengthening cognitive functions. This includes a 2020 study published in Science Daily which focused on investigating how hearing aids impact the brain. Researchers at the University of Melbourne evaluated the hearing and cognitive capacity of nearly 100 participants before and after the use of hearing aids. They found that:  “97% of participants showed either clinically significant improvement or stability in executive function (mental ability to plan, organize information and initiate tasks)”. This highlights how the use of hearing aids can be an effective intervention in brain health. 

Treating hearing loss begins with one simple step: scheduling an appointment for a hearing test! Treatment can truly transform the quality of your daily life, health, and wellness. We are here to help you navigate the process and provide individualized care that centers your health.