Increased volume on brain health

Hearing loss

Dementia and hearing loss may be connected. What you should know about this subject is as follows.

Dementia and hearing loss: is there a connection? In recent years, researchers have been working feverishly to find an answer to this question.

"A number of studies have found a correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline," says Dr. Elliott Kozin, an assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Harvard Medical School.

While the two appear to be related, experts caution that it is too early to determine whether hearing loss is driving cognitive deterioration.

"As the statistics adage goes, 'association does not imply causation,'" explains Dr. Kozin, a Massachusetts Eye and Ear specialist who specializes in the examination and treatment of complicated ear disorders. "It is possible that there are additional or several unknown risk factors for both hearing loss and cognitive decline." One of those things could be the source of both issues.

Even if a link has not been shown, it is critical to get checked if you detect indicators that your hearing may be less sensitive than it used to be. There is already abundant evidence that hearing impairments have a detrimental effect on one's social relations and overall quality of life. Simple remedies may be beneficial. 

Investigating the connection

There are several possible explanations for why hearing loss and brain alterations may be connected.

To begin, when you have poor hearing, you may have difficulty communicating with people, which may have an effect on your social life. This absence of interaction may have a detrimental effect on your quality of life and cognitive processing, according to Dr. Kozin.

All of these factors are believed to play a role in the development of disorders such as depression and dementia," he explains.

It's also possible that hearing loss has an effect on the brain's physical structure, he says. This, in turn, may increase the brain's susceptibility to the type of damage seen in persons with Alzheimer's disease.

A risk factor that is modifiable?

For two reasons, this potential link between hearing loss and brain alterations has attracted researchers' interest.

To begin, dementia is an increasing problem in the United States due to the aging population and an effort to find modifiable risk factors.

The concept is that by identifying the factors that contribute to an illness such as dementia, we can intervene early and potentially prevent, slow, or even reverse the progression of the disorder. Dr. Kozin explains. If hearing loss alters the brain, for example, equipping someone with a hearing aid may avert cognitive deficits.

"This is a busy area of research, and the National Institutes of Health is substantially supporting it," Dr. Kozin explains. "What is normally required are high-quality prospective longitudinal studies comparing two groups of people, those with and without hearing loss, to establish whether they develop illnesses such as dementia. Individuals may be given hearing aids as part of these studies to investigate if they reduce the chance of developing disorders such as dementia. These studies are difficult to conduct because they require a large number of people who are closely monitored over an extended period of time."

Second, if hearing loss is a sign of dementia, it may aid doctors in detecting the disease earlier. The goal is that it will one day be utilized to aid in the diagnosis of dementia, according to Dr. Kozin.

It is far too early to determine whether either of these is true, but researchers expect to have an answer someday.

Are you suffering from hearing loss?

The following are some warning indicators that may indicate trouble:

hearing impairment in quiet or noisy surroundings

When people communicate with you and there are missing words or phrases.


sensitivity to noise

a sensation of fullness in the ears

requiring an increase in the loudness of the television or music.
Additionally, you may feel exhausted as a result of the intense concentration required to follow a conversation.

Understanding Hearing Loss

So in the meantime, Dr. Kozin advises people to remain cautious about hearing loss. According to a 2017 JAMA study, hearing loss is a widespread condition among American people aged 29 to 69.

"An epidemiology research funded by the National Institutes of Health found that 14% of individuals have hearing loss," Dr. Kozin explains. While men are twice as likely to develop hearing loss as women, ladies are not immune.

With increasing age, the problem becomes increasingly prevalent. "The study discovered that 23% and 39% of persons aged 50 to 59 and 60 to 69, respectively, suffered hearing loss," Dr. Kozin explains. However, it is not exclusive to older persons.

"There is no certain age at which someone may suffer hearing loss, as it can be caused by a variety of causes, including noise exposure and heredity," Dr. Kozin explains. According to a 2017 JAMA study, 8% of adults in their forties reported having hearing problems.

Identifying the issue

Many people with hearing impairments are unaware of their condition.

"Auditory dysfunction manifests itself in a variety of ways, including hearing loss, tinnitus [ear ringing], and noise sensitivity. In some cases, people may only experience hearing loss in loud environments, such as restaurants, according to Dr. Kozin. Another source of information may be comments made by friends and family members who are unaware of the situation. 

However, even though there are no national guidelines for hearing screening or testing at specified ages or intervals, you should have your hearing evaluated if you develop signs of hearing loss or if someone else recognizes that you are having difficulties hearing.

A hearing test is non-invasive and takes only a few minutes. Hearing loss can be treated in a variety of ways, and a hearing professional may be able to prescribe the most appropriate next steps," Dr. Kozin explains. It is vital to address the problem in order to preserve a healthy aging process. In Dr. Kozin's words, "If hearing rehabilitation also addresses cognitive loss, this would be a 'bonus' benefit; nevertheless, the evidence does not yet support this as a direct benefit, and practitioners should exercise caution when making such promises to patients.

While many health campaigns place an emphasis on heart health, maintaining good ear health is also critical.

Additionally, we should discuss 'hearing health,' both in terms of prevention and treatment of hearing loss. It is widely established that correcting hearing loss has a number of beneficial health consequences "Dr. Kozin states. "As a result, we usually prescribe hearing protection in loud places and some type of hearing rehabilitation plan for individuals who have hearing loss."

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