Hearing Loss and Dementia

Hearing loss is one of the most common medical problems - about 37 million people in the US suffer from hearing problems. Can you think of any other disorder that affects 15% of the adult American population but is treated by only 16% of that group? Read on to learn more about the condition and potential solutions to it.

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What's the link between hearing loss and dementia?

According to a 2011 study, hearing loss is connected to an increased risk of dementia. Professor Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, led the research team, which included academics from all over the country.

The study enlisted the participation of 600 participants. After taking several tests to determine their mental and hearing abilities between 1990 and 1994, their mental abilities were tracked until 2008. During this time, scientists were also watching for signs of Alzheimer's disease or dementia in these people. A third of the individuals had some hearing loss, whereas the rest had no issues hearing. At the outset of the trial, none of the participants had dementia.

The researchers determined that those who had hearing loss at the start of the trial were considerably more likely to develop dementia, with the severity of the hearing loss indicating a higher risk of dementia. Dr. Frank Lin of Baltimore calculated that every 10 decibels of hearing loss increased the risk of dementia by 20%. Hearing loss was connected with 36% of dementia risk in persons 60 years or older.

Other studies are pointing to the same conclusion

Dr. Lin's findings were echoed by French experts in a separate study done in 2018. In a large-scale longitudinal study, Hélène Amieva and a team of epidemiologists and biostatisticians looked at the relationship between hearing aid use and dementia. The impact of hearing loss on the participants' long-term health outcomes was the focus of this research. 

Amieva found that hearing aid users were no more likely than the general public to develop dementia, effectively eliminating the risk of hearing loss reported in previous studies.

Hearing Loss and Dementia  

Explaining the Connection

There are three fundamental theories regarding how hearing loss may contribute to cognitive decline and dementia.

You may be at risk of losing more than your hearing

Because hearing loss is so common, it has long been assumed to be a natural part of growing older and not a significant cause for concern. However, the research we've highlighted suggests that there may be a higher risk to health than previously thought. Simple remedies like hearing aids could have a significant impact on maintaining brain function.

As a result, it's critical to keep track of your hearing loss frequently to avoid dementia. An annual hearing exam is the simplest way to achieve this.

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