What Research On Dementia And Hearing Loss Reveals
Most recently, a study published in July 2021 found that people who struggle to hear speech in noise were more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing, as measured over an 11-year period. This was the first time that speech in noise was specifically studied. However, the study wasn’t capable of determining if untreated hearing loss caused the dementia, only that they’re linked.
In a different study, a team at Johns Hopkins looked at cognitive impairment scores over six years for nearly 2,000 seniors. They concluded that those with hearing loss had a faster decline. The volunteers were all cognitively normal when the research began. But by the studys end, people with hearing loss were 24 percent more likely to meet the standard of cognitive impairment compared to people with normal hearing.
Another approach is to ask people whether theyve noticed a change. Measures of subjective decline can pick up losses before theyll show up on a test. A large studyusing data drawn from more than 10,000 men age 62 and upran over eight years. It found that the greater their hearing loss, the more likely men were to express concerns about their memory or thinking over time. With even a mild hearing loss, their chance of reporting cognitive decline was 30 percent higher than among those who did not report any hearing loss. With moderate or severe hearing loss, the risk was 42 and 52 percent higher.
Group Comparison Of Gray Matter Volume And Glucose Metabolism
Compared with the MCI_NT group, the MCI_T group exhibited significantly lower GM volume in the right insula . Compared with the MCI_NT group, the MCI_T group showed a lower metabolism in the right superior temporal pole and the left fusiform gyrus and higher metabolism in the right postcentral gyrus .
Table 2. Brain regions showing significant gray matter volume or glucose metabolic differences between MCI_T and MCI_NT groups.
Does Hearing Loss Lead To Brain Atrophy
Hearing loss is generally accepted as just another part of the aging process: as we get older, we start to hear things a little less clearly. Maybe we start turning the volume up on the TV, or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when theyre talking to us, or maybewe startwhere was I going with thisoh, yes. Maybe we start forgetting things?
Memory loss is also often considered a normal part of aging as dementia and Alzheimers are much more prevalent in the senior citizen population than the general population at large. But what if the two were somehow connected? And, better yet, what if there was a way to treat hearing loss and also preserve your memories and mental health?
Listen To The Positives
Even though tinnitus can’t be cured, there is still lots you can do to help with your symptoms. It’s important to understand that with rare exceptions, tinnitus isn’t caused by a serious condition and doesn’t lead to other symptoms. It certainly isn’t because you’re going mad. Nor is it going to keep on getting worse – in fact, it often gets less noticeable over time.
Tinnitus is always worse when there’s little or no background noise to cover it, so it tends to be more troublesome at night. Keeping the radio on quietly can help – it’s worth getting one with a timer at night. You can even get a pillow with a built-in radio, or a soft headband with thin, removable speakers. Some people prefer a noise generator, which plays soothing background sounds from nature, like waves or rustling leaves.
When it’s severe, tinnitus can get you down and even cause depression. Many hospitals have a specialist tinnitus clinic, headed up by an audiologist with training in cognitive behavioural therapy – a form of counselling which aims to help you challenge unhelpful negative thoughts. Sometimes you’ll need to be seen first in an ENT clinic which can refer you on to a tinnitus clinic – but the sooner you get help, the more successful it’s likely to be.
Wearing Hearing Aids Means Im Old And Im Not Ready For That
Its normal to feel worried that hearing loss means youre agingand to want to hide it. Plenty of people with a hearing impairment sit silently rather than joining in conversations and activities, because they fear that hearing problems will make them seem helpless or less than competent. The truth: Connecting with others can help your brain stay younger and keep you involved with life.
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The Auditory Brain: Structural And Functional Substrates For Neurodegeneration
The auditory system has evolved to allow adaptive behavioural responses to complex, dynamic acoustic environments . However, its structural and functional characteristics confer specific vulnerabilities to neurodegenerative pathologies.
Anatomically, the hierarchy of auditory processing relays and in particular the large-scale cerebral networks that process sound information are highly distributed. The spread of pathogenic proteins in neurodegenerative dementias targets these networks rather than the peripheral organs of hearing. Though histopathological data remain limited, neurodegenerative pathologies may preferentially involve auditory association cortex and cortico-cortical projections rather than primary sensory cortex , thereby striking the integrative mechanisms that are most critical for auditory object analysis.
Two additional, related guiding principles of auditory system operation that are critical for adaptive functioning in complex, dynamic auditory environments are functional plasticity and reciprocity. Reciprocity is mediated by recursive, afferent-efferent feedback that supports auditory change detection and top-down tracking of behaviourally relevant sound sources , as well as predictive decoding and filling-in of ambiguous and varying auditory inputs, such as degraded speech . Plasticity enables dynamic neural adaptation to auditory experience.
Tinnitus Discovery Could Lead To New Ways To Stop The Ringing
Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are offering hope to the 10 percent of the population who suffer from tinnitus a constant, often high-pitched ringing or buzzing in the ears that can be annoying and even maddening, and has no cure.
Their new findings, published online last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest several new approaches to treatment, including retraining the brain, and new avenues for developing drugs to suppress the ringing.
This work is the most clearheaded documentation to this point of whats actually happening in the brains cortex in ways that account for the ongoing genesis of sound, said Michael Merzenich, professor emeritus of otolaryngology at UC San Francisco and inventor of the cochlear implant, who was not involved with the research. As soon as I read the paper, I said, Of course! It was immediately obvious that this is almost certainly the true way to think about it.
Merzenich is also chief scientific officer at Posit Science, which develops software to retrain the brain, primarily to improve learning and memory but more recently to address problems like schizophrenia, Alzheimers Disease and tinnitus.
Two million Americans are debilitated by tinnitus they cant work, they cant sleep. Its life destroying and a substantial cause of suicide, he said. These experiments have led us to rethink how we attack the tinnitus by our training strategies.
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Tinnitus And Hearing Loss
Not every person suffering tinnitus experiences hearing loss, and not every person with hearing loss has tinnitus. However, these two conditions are linked in many cases. Many of those who suffer from noise-induced hearing loss have reported prolonged or constant ringing in their ears. It is not entirely clear why noise-induced hearing loss leads to tinnitus, but it likely involves the cochlea.
The cochlea is a spiral-shaped organ in your inner ear. The inside is lined with sound-sensitive cells that help you process what you’re hearing. When the cochlea is exposed to loud, excessive noise, tinnitus and hearing loss can occur. Many people experience tinnitus after concerts, gunfire, or other loud noises. However, when the ringing doesn’t go away, tinnitus becomes a problem.
While tinnitus and hearing loss are not inherently linked, there is a definite correlation between the two. So it’s safe to say that an elderly person suffering from hearing loss might experience tinnitus as well. Tinnitus can cause a host of problems on its own, many of which might worsen dementia symptoms.
Can Vicks Vapor Rub Help Tinnitus
Vicks VapoRub has been a household staple for many decades. Its meant to relieve symptoms of cough, congestion, and muscle aches. Bloggers tout it as a viable treatment for earaches, tinnitus, and earwax buildup. Dont put Vicks VapoRub in or near childrens ears, as it may cause respiratory distress.
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How Can Upper Respiratory Infections Affect Tinnitus
Respiratory conditions can be scary. Not only can they come on acutely and urgently, but they can also last much longer than anticipated and have wide-reaching effects that many people may not know about. One of those effects is tinnitus.
While that seems like a foreign and terrifying word, it is actually used to describe ringing in your ears even when no other sounds are happening. Tinnitus can occur in response to aging or as a consequence of consistently loud noises, such as music or machinery at work. In addition, certain medical conditions, like upper respiratory infections, can worsen hearing conditions and lead to tinnitus. Resolving these issues is crucial for regaining your hearing abilities.
How Long Do Tinnitus Spikes Last
On average, tinnitus will last 16 to 48 hours. Further exposure to loud noises could also cause tinnitus to flare up again, effectively resetting the clock. Its generally suggested that you see a specialist if your tinnitus persists and especially if your tinnitus is detracting from your quality of life.
If You Need Help With Hearing Loss
If you’re noticing trouble hearing in yourself or a loved one, don’t delayprompt treatment can help you or your loved one stay engaged in the world and avoid social isolation, a common problem for people with untreated hearing loss. Hearing loss is exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be. To find a hearing care professional, see our directory of consumer-reviewed hearing clinics to find a hearing specialist or audiologist near you.
Hearing Loss And Dementia: The Silent Connection
Scientists are finding more and more evidence that trouble with hearing makes you more likely to go on to have dementia, a condition marked by memory loss and trouble with thinking, problem-solving, and other mental tasks.
That doesnt mean that people with hearing loss are guaranteed to have dementia — simply that the odds are higher. There may be things you can do to lower your chances for mental decline, even if you start to have trouble hearing.
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Hearing Loss & Dementia
Research by Johns Hopkins University and others has confirmed what many audiologists and physicians have long feared: there is an irrefutable link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Initial problems such as memory loss and an inability to concentrate can worsen over time. Left untreated, this may eventually lead to dementia and other forms of severe cognitive impairment.
In the most recent study, published in 2013, 2,000 older adults were tracked for a period of six years. Those who began the study with the worst hearing loss impairment bad enough to interfere with daily conversational ability were 24 percent more likely to see a decline in cognitive ability compared to individuals with normal hearing. A similar study published in 2011 concluded that persons with moderate hearing loss were three times as likely to develop dementia. These figures are striking and hard to refute.Though the reason for the correlation isnt completely understood, several theories exist. It may be that the increased cognitive load the brain experiences when trying to hear properly taxes the resources that would otherwise be available for memory and concentration. Alternatively, a decrease in the brains gray matter may lead to a shrinkage in brain cells and a resulting inability to process sound. Another factor may be the social isolation many individuals with hearing loss experience this lack of socialization has been shown to accelerate cognitive decline and dementia.
Demographic And Clinical Characteristics Of The Subjects
The clinical characteristics of 23 subjects diagnosed with MCI are summarised in Table 1. The mean age of the 23 subjects was 74.0 ± 6.1 years , and 13 were male. The demographics and clinical characteristics in terms of age, sex, educational level, and mean hearing thresholds of subjects in the MCI_T and MCI_NT groups did not have a statistically significant difference. In particular, each hearing threshold across all frequencies did not differ between the MCI_T and MCI_NT groups . Regarding the neuropsychological test, no significant differences were observed for any domain involved in CERAD-K between the two groups. As expected, THI scores and the duration of tinnitus were significantly higher in the MCI_T group than those in the MCI_NT group. In the MCI_T group , the most frequent characteristic of tinnitus was pure tone , followed by narrow-band noise .
Table 1. Demographic and clinical characteristics of the study population.
Figure 1. No significant differences in hearing thresholds across all frequencies were observed between mild cognitive impairment with tinnitus handicap and MCI without tinnitus handicap . Data show the mean ± SEM .
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How Hearing Aids Can Help
As Signia continuously develops its hearing aid technology, the opportunities for better hearing grow. Hearing aids can have a profoundly positive impact on the elderly, especially those who long to communicate and hear the world around them. These interactions can improve their quality of life and prevent isolation and depression — two factors that have a serious impact on dementia.
The earlier hearing loss and tinnitus are diagnosed, the faster treatment can begin. Consider visiting a hearing care professional for a hearing test, and talk to your loved ones about hearing aids. Better hearing can improve present-day interactions and future health.
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Many studies have remarked on the link between hearing loss and dementia, but many people still wonder if tinnitus has any links to the condition as well.
Recent studies have shown that there is an irrefutable link between hearing loss and dementia in older patients. As their hearing worsens, they might have trouble interacting with people. Many older people who struggle to communicate with family members, friends, and nurses might withdraw, which can have a negative impact on their health. Social isolation has been shown to increase the onset and effects of dementia, and hearing loss can directly cause isolation.
There is also the issue of misdiagnosis. Certain symptoms of hearing loss might be misinterpreted as dementia. In one case, a woman was diagnosed with a serious case of dementia. After she was fitted with hearing aids, doctors were able to determine that many of her symptoms werent caused by a mental condition, but a hearing problem.
Early detection of hearing loss is key in these cases. Once the hearing loss is diagnosed, measures can be taken to ensure that the patients health and well-being are better taken care of. Hearing aids can allow them the freedom to communicate, and an active social life can help prevent the onset of dementia.
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Other Diseases & Medical Conditions
- Tinnitus is a reported symptom of the following medical conditions:
- Metabolic Disorders: Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Anemia
- Autoimmune Disorders: Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia
- Blood Vessel Disorders: High Blood Pressure, Atherosclerosis
- Psychiatric Disorders: Depression, Anxiety, Stress
- Vestibular Disorders: Ménière’s Disease,Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Otosclerosis
- Tumor-Related Disorders : Acoustic Neuroma, Vestibular Schwannoma, other tumorous growths
Again, a person experiencing tinnitus should not assume that he/she has one of the medical conditions listed above. Only a trained healthcare provider can appropriately diagnose the underlying cause of tinnitus.
Do Hearing Aids Reverse Cognitive Decline
Dr. Curhans research didnt get a clear answer to this question. Among volunteers with severe hearing loss, those who wore hearing aids had a slightly lower risk of subsequent subjective cognitive decline than those who didnt. But the effect was too small to be statistically significant.
Because they keep you connected withothers, hearing aids can help preventsocial isolation.
She would like to see hearing aids and cognitive decline get a hard look. There isnt much evidence over long periods of time and what we have isnt conclusive, she notes. Several studies have found no relation between hearing aid use and cognitive function decline, while others have been suggestive of a possible association, she told Healthy Hearing. This relation merits further study.
One recent and very large observational study did shed more light on this issue, finding that hearing aids appeared to delay the onset of cognitive impairment and dementia, along with depression and falls that cause injuries. However, it was not a randomized controlled trial, so the results could have been for other reasons .
As well, one large 2018 study analyzed results from more than 2,000 Americans age 50 and up who took word recall tests every two years for up to 18 years. Among those who acquired hearing aids along the way, the evidence suggested that the aids slowed the rate they lost memory of words.
His answer, Do they do it from the drawer?
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Audiological And Psychoacoustic Evaluations
At the baseline evaluation, a structured history of the characteristics of tinnitus on the affected ear and the psychoacoustic properties of the tinnitus was obtained. As described in previous studies , all subjects underwent pure-tone audiometry testing that included psychoacoustic tests of tinnitus such as tinnitus pitch matching, tinnitus loudness matching, and the minimum masking level test. The hearing thresholds for seven different octave frequencies were evaluated using PTA in a sound-proof booth. The mean hearing threshold was calculated by the average of the hearing thresholds at 0.5, 1, and 2 kHz. The severity of perceived tinnitus was based on the THI scores.