The Hidden Link between Hearing Loss and Memory Loss

March 09, 2018

The Hidden Link between Hearing Loss and Memory Loss

Over time, any number of structural, metabolic, or age-related changes can damage the cochlea, which is the region of the inner ear responsible for converting sound vibrations into nerve impulses. And when left untreated, these changes can result in a gradual inability to detect certain sounds, commonly high pitched or high frequency.

Although damage to the cochlea can affect people of any age, it is most commonly associated with those over the age of 50. And it is currently one of the leading causes of hearing loss.

However, gradual hearing loss is not the only symptom of this condition.

When sufferers struggle to make out words or process conversations, they often have to invest more cognitive effort to understand what is being said. And this places unnecessary load on other regions of the brain – specifically those responsible for memory.

This explains why the cognitive symptoms of hearing loss are sometimes misdiagnosed as dementia. The more one struggles to process sound, the harder it becomes to recall basic details – like names and dates and times.

So how do you know if you’re suffering from memory loss, hearing loss, or a combination of the two?

The short answer is – you get tested.

Should You Get Tested for Hearing Loss or for Dementia?

As a general rule, you should get your hearing checked first. This is because audiological evaluations are very simple to have done. And for most people, the telltale signs of hearing loss tend to crop up sooner than those for cognitive decline. In other words, sufferers will complain of dropped conversations or muffled sounds before they begin having difficulty remembering names or where they left their keys.

So whether you’re struggling to make out sounds or recall simple details, you should start with a comprehensive hearing examination before exploring neurological intervention.

However, traditional hearing tests can’t always diagnose the root cause of the problem.

This is why we use a far more holistic approach to evaluating our patients.

Our Approach to Diagnostic Testing for Hearing Loss

At The Hearing Solution, our expert audiologists conduct a number of exams to pinpoint the exact cause of your hearing loss – and how best to treat it.

These tests involve comprehensive hearing evaluations, complete with real-world simulations in noisy environments. This approach is in sharp contrast to most testing methods that only examine peripheral hearing capabilities in quiet, controlled settings.

Because the brain is ultimately responsible for sound processing, there is often a cognitive component to hearing loss. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suffering from dementia or some other neurological disease. Again, memory loss is sometimes a result of your brain having to work harder than normal to process sounds. And many of our patients are relieved to discover that with the right technology, training, and treatment – both their hearing and memory can improve over time.

To learn how we can help you properly diagnose and treat the root cause of your own hearing loss, schedule a consultation with The Hearing Solution today.

Interested in learning more? Attend one of our regular hearing solution events to learn more about our unique approach to hearing loss or give us a call at 916-646-2471.

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