Did you know that hearing loss and dementia are linked? Researchers have found that hearing loss affects the same areas of the brain as are involved in dementia, and that hearing loss increases your risk of developing the condition. It is believed that this is because this area shrinks when it is not stimulated by the sounds it is used to processing, making it less responsive.
We know that conditions such as dementia are much more likely to develop if hearing loss is untreated. The good news is that using a hearing solutions such as hearing aids can increase the stimulation to the brain and encourage new brain cell growth.
What Are The Risk Factors For Dementia?
Studies have identified several risk factors for dementia, ranging from congenital heart defects to poor education. Some of these factors are not controllable, but many of them can be influenced by lifestyle and interventions to reduce the risk of developing dementia in old age. The following factors are identified as modifiable:
1. Obesity. Obesity, particularly in midlife, is a risk factor for dementia and many other health conditions. Maintaining a healthy weight through healthy eating and regular exercise is one of the most significant ways to protect your general health throughout your life.
2. Hearing loss. Hearing loss has been identified as the most significant risk factor for dementia, especially when developed in midlife. People with hearing loss are much more likely to develop dementia, but these risks can be reversed with the use of hearing aids in the early stages.
3. Hypertension. Hypertension, a condition in which blood pressure is persistently raised, is a long term medical condition that can increase the likelihood of developing dementia.
4. Smoking.Smoking is a high risk factor for several health conditions, including dementia and heart disease. Giving up smoking will help you to maintain a healthier body and protect against conditions like this.
5. Depression. Depression is seen to affect the same brain area as dementia, and is a risk factor for the condition. If you or a loved one are affected by depression, it is very important to seek help as soon as possible to reduce the risk of other general and mental health problems.
6. Physical inactivity. A lack of physical activity can result in many health problems, particularly since this is also linked with obesity and conditions like diabetes. A good programme of regular exercise is an important way to protect your health, and you should seek advice from a professional if you have not exercised before.
7. Social isolation. Social isolation is a risk factor associated with dementia, and is often linked with other conditions such as depression and hearing loss. Socialising can become more difficult as you age, so it is vital to be aware of this potential problem.
8. Diabetes. People with diabetes are more likely to develop hearing loss and will likely have a dedicated care team to explain the risks and look out for the development of any problems.
If you, or someone you love, is showing signs of one of the above conditions, it is a good idea to seek advice from your doctor to find out how you can reduce your risk of dementia and increase your general health. If you think you may have hearing loss, you should book a free hearing test with an experienced audiologist as soon as possible.
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