Hearing the best that you can plays a key role in keeping your brain healthy. Hearing health is as important as any other body health, but quite often people delay doing something about hearing loss.

There is an association between hearing loss and dementia.  Research shows that people who have normal memory and cognition are at an increased risk of dementia 10-15 years after developing a hearing loss*. Even a mild hearing loss can increase the risks of dementia, with the risks increasing with the degree of hearing loss. However, hearing loss in midlife (persons aged 45-65 years), is one of the modifiable risk factors for dementia. This means that we can often address hearing loss and hence reduce the risks of dementia.

How we address hearing loss depends on the type of hearing loss. Conductive and mixed hearing losses may be treated medically. Sensorineural hearing loss or “nerve deafness” can be helped by using hearing aids. Hearing aid use is the largest factor – that that you can control – that can protect you from cognitive decline and dementia.

Whilst the exact mechanism of how hearing and dementia are associated is still under research, what is clear is that treating hearing loss in midlife can make a significant difference in the rate of cognitive decline in later life. Improving your hearing by using hearing aids can reduce the risk of dementia*.

Hearing loss is common, 1 in 6 Australians have hearing loss. Hearing loss can be caused by ageing, loud noise exposure, disease, some medications, and genetics. Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, can begin in your 50’s especially if there is also a history of loud noise exposure. So, the first step in hearing health for anyone over 50 is to have their hearing checked.

How can Melbourne Audiology Centre clinicians help you to reduce your risks of cognitive decline and dementia?

  • We can test your hearing and if you have hearing loss make the appropriate recommendations. This may be a referral to your GP/ENT or the fitting of hearing aids.  If your hearing is normal, we recommend a re-test in 2 years
  • If you need hearing aids, we encourage the use of hearing aids as soon as possible. Delaying hearing aid fitting increases your risk of dementia
  • Loud noise, whether it is recreational or at work, can damage your hearing. We strongly advise you to protect your hearing when in loud noise. You can protect your hearing by limiting your exposure to loud noise or if you cannot avoid it, by using ear plugs.

Please contact us if you have any questions about getting a hearing test, acquiring hearing aids or custom-made hearing protection. Our audiologists are experts in helping you to hear the best you can.

* https://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(20)30367-6/fulltext

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