A couple of weeks ago, I found myself having a difficult time hearing what people were saying. I was asking everyone to repeat what they were saying and I found that quite frustrating. Instead of wondering why everyone was mumbling, I began to wonder if I should get my hearing checked!
It just so happened that my annual physical was scheduled at about that time. As she always does, my wonderful primary care doctor checked my ears and found that the left one was plugged up with wax. She removed that big plug and I could hear fine again! What a relief!
At the same time, one of my medical newsletters had a link to a large observational study from the United Kingdom which showed a 42% increased risk for dementia in people with hearing loss compared with their peers with no hearing trouble. In addition, there was no increased risk in those with hearing loss who used hearing aids. Johns Hopkins has created a study that is due to be published within the next couple of months, which will further demonstrate if hearing aids help prevent dementia in middle aged to older adults. I’ll keep you all posted on that one.
One theory that most of the doctors studying this issue believe is that when someone has hearing loss, the sound isn’t accurately encoded and the ear sends a garbled signal to the brain. The brain then, must work harder to process the signal, so that means there are fewer brain resources for other functions, such as making a memory.
Most people our age are looking into, and using, the many ways to prevent dementia illnesses like Alzheimer’s. There are many tools available, like: taking B vitamins, working crossword puzzles, going back to hiking or biking, or other activities that we enjoyed as children. This is one more simple way to protect ourselves. If and when I begin to have a hard time hearing what people are saying, I will most definitely get myself checked, and I hope you will too!
Meanwhile, stay as active as possible! Join my Pilates Class, or a group hike, or get back in touch with your love for biking. Do anything that is fun for you!
And here is a reminder about the added benefits of exercising in nature, for our brain health!
Best of Health,