Hearing Loss Related Complications
If your ears cannot pick up sounds, your hearing nerves will send only fewer signals to your brain, and thus depriving your brain of stimulation, it once had. When you are trying hard to listen, your brain may go through cognitive overload. This means that when your brain is working hard to decode what others are saying, it doesnt store the information in your memory as well as if you are listening with ease. This is one way that hearing loss can affect memory and contribute to a quicker decline in thinking.
Here are a few hearing loss-related complications:
Why Do We Have Ear Wax
The purpose of ear wax is multifaceted. Ear wax has a few purposes:
- Moisturizer. Due to its oily, waxy nature, ear wax is an effective moisturizer for the ear canal, keeping it clean and lubricated. Too little ear wax can leave your ears dry, itchy and flaky, making you more prone to scratching themwhich puts them at greater risk for irritation and infection.
- Protective Barrier. Ear wax is a natural protective barrierhelping trap dirt, dust and other grime before it has a chance to reach your ear drum and inner ear.
- Bug Repellent. The smell of this waxy substance actually shoos away small, curious insects, who can sometimes fly or crawl their way into the ear . If any bugs do manage to break their way in, theyll get captured in ear waxs sticky trap, then tumble out later along with the rest of the gunk.
- Antibiotic. Ear wax is your ears local defense system. Researchers have identified several important antimicrobial peptides present in ear wax. These peptides work together to protect against a broad range of bacteria and fungi, preventing them from growing and infecting the ear. While each peptide has an antimicrobial effect on its own, when combined they increase in power and effectiveness. And the pH level of ear wax actually provides ideal conditions for this collaborative power to take place.
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Social Isolation And Depression Vs Dementia
Theres a complex interrelationship between hearing loss, social isolation, depression, and dementia.
The anxiety of not understanding what others are saying can lead to self-imposed isolation. Rather than struggling to have a conversation with other people, its easier to avoid conversations altogether. Social isolation can be a risk factor for both depression and dementia. In fact, social isolation has been associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
The negative effects on brain health caused by depression can mimic those of dementia. As such, distinguishing between depression and dementia can be a challenge since they exhibit some of the same symptoms: impaired concentration, apathy, and loss of appetite, among others.
Further complications arise from the fact that the cognitive struggles produced by hearing loss mimic the struggles of both depression and dementia. Comprehension difficulties are a byproduct of cognitive decline as well as hearing loss.
As Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, it is my job to help identify what is going on with a patient in order to connect them with the appropriate course of treatment.
Can Ear Problems Affect Your Brain
Brain scans show us that hearing loss may contribute to a faster rate of atrophy in the brain, Lin says. Hearing loss also contributes to social isolation. You may not want to be with people as much, and when you are you may not engage in conversation as much. These factors may contribute to dementia.
Diabetes & Dementia: A Common Link
Diabetes Increases the Risk of Developing Dementia, and it Makes Sense!
Dementia and diabetes starve your brain, and tangle and twist vital cells. Alzheimers disease is the 5th leading cause of death in the elderly in North America. And the devastating disease of dementia shares a strong link with another sickness that wreaks havoc on millions of individuals in North America diabetes.
As mentioned prior, individuals affected by type 1 and type 2 diabetes have a notable resistance to insulin. Type 1 is caused by the bodys inability to produce insulin, and type 2 is caused by the deterioration of the bodys insulin receptors and associated with the consumption of too much-refined carbohydrates like processed grains and sugar.
But when studies began to appear in the 2000s that indicated an alarming correlation between insulin and brain cell deterioration, major breakthroughs were made around Alzheimers and dementia prevention. This spurred many health practitioners to ask a critical question could Alzheimers disease simply be type 3 diabetes?
Multiple studies have shown that type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for dementia, including Alzheimers disease, vascular dementia, and other types of dementia. Cardiovascular problems that are associated with diabetes are also associated with dementia, including:
- Heart disease or family history of heart disease
- Impaired blood vessels
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
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The Link Between Hearing Loss And Alzheimers Disease
Adults with hearing loss have a higher risk for Alzheimers and other cognitive disorders
The risk of dementia increases for those with a hearing loss greater than 25 dB.
of the risk of dementia was associated with hearing loss for study participants over the age of
Individuals with moderate to severe hearing loss are up to 5 times as likely to develop dementia.
According to several major studies, older adults with hearing lossespecially men are more likely to develop Alzheimers disease and dementia, compared to those with normal hearing. Men with hearing loss were 69 percent more likely to develop dementia than those with no hearing impairment.
The risk escalates as a persons hearing loss worsens. Those with mild hearing impairment are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia compared to those with normal hearing. The risk increases three-fold for those with moderate hearing loss, and five-fold for those with severe impairment.
Ways Hearing Loss Can Affect Your Memory
Most people consider hearing loss and cognitive impairment as normal when they get older. However, research has revealed a link between hearing loss and mild cognitive impairment, which may be a precursor to Alzheimers disease. According to the research, people with hearing loss were two times more likely to develop cognitive impairment compared to people with normal hearing.
Your hearing plays an important role in keeping your brain and memory sharp, so it is essential to get your hearing tested frequently.
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What To Do If You Have Hearing Trouble
If you notice youre having difficulty hearing frequently turning the television up, asking people to repeat themselves or missing parts of in-person or over-the-phone conversations see your doctor.
Hearing loss may be reversible, if its caused by a problem such as earwax clogging your ear canal, an infection or a damaged eardrum. A doctor can evaluate your ears for potential physical problems that could be interfering.
And have your hearing tested. If the problem with your hearing isnt fixable, you can find out how extensive the damage is. A hearing professional can tell you whether you might benefit from a hearing aid.
And if your health-care providers think a hearing aid will help you, its best to start using the device sooner rather than later.
Research suggests that the earlier you adopt , the better the outcome, Deal says.
Copyright 2019, Consumer Reports Inc.
New Research Links Alzheimers And Hearing Loss
Over the past few years, researchers at Johns Hopkins have done studies looking at how hearing loss may influence cognitive decline. In each case, they met with a number of seniors over several years and tracked which ones developed Alzheimers and how quickly the disease progressed. In each study, the people with hearing loss had higher rates of dementia.
In one study, people with hearing loss were 24% more likely to have Alzheimers. In another, they found that the worse the hearing loss was, the more likely the person was to develop dementia.
These studies dont suggest that hearing loss itself causes dementia, but it does show that theres a link between the two. The researchers have a few theories on why that might be:
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Correlation Between Hearing Loss & Dementia
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.
My Hearings Not That Bad
Hearing aid users wait, on average, 10 years before getting help for hearing loss. But during that time, communication with loved ones becomes more difficult, and isolation and health risks increase. Our findings emphasized just how important it is to be proactive in addressing any hearing declines over time, says Lin.
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Why Would Hearing Loss Contribute To Cognitive Problems And Dementia
How might hearing loss contribute to cognitive problems and dementia? Based on current research, there are several possibilities. There may be a common physiological pathway that contributes to both hearing loss and cognitive decline or conditions that affect oxygen levels in the blood for example, diabetes, obesity, or cardiovascular disease.
I often say to my patients who are concerned about their memory to think about the fact that if they do not hear something accurately, then they cannot remember it accurately. Increased cognitive load is a risk factor in developing dementia.
Cerebral atrophy or brain shrinkage
Certain structures of brain cells can shrink when they dont get enough stimulation. It makes sense intuitively that areas of the brain that do not get enough stimulation can shrink, due to a loss of neurons. Atrophy or brain shrinkage has been long documented as a risk factor in developing dementia.
I often tell loved ones to imagine walking around with a plexiglass bubble around their head. You can hear some sound, you can see people laughing and talking, but you just cant tell what it is going on. You dont get the joke, you dont understand what people are saying.
The Genesis And Treatment Of A Common Ear Condition
Some earwax is good for your ears, so often the best policy is to leave it alone. And a few drops of water may be all you need to get rid of a blockage.
Earwax, a bodily emanation that many of us would rather do without, is actually pretty useful stuff in small amounts. Its a natural cleanser as it moves from inside the ear canal outward, gathering dead skin cells, hair, and dirt along the way. Tests have shown that it has antibacterial and antifungal properties. If your ears dont have enough earwax, theyre likely to feel itchy and uncomfortable.
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Avoid Excessively Loud Noises To Protect Your Hearing
Hearing loss has a strong link to dementia. Mild hearing loss doubles your risk of dementia, and severe hearing loss increases your risk of dementia by 5 times. As you age, pay attention to whether your hearing is worse than it used to be. Around one third of people over the age of 65 have hearing problems. Hearing loss can be caused by age, repeated exposure to loud noises , blockages in the ear , injury, or a combination of these factors.
When your hearing starts to decline, your brain has to work harder to interpret the muffled sounds. By diverting more energy to listening, your brain spends less energy storing information into memory. People with hearing loss may also start to avoid social interactions due to the frustrations that come with the extra effort needed to have a conversation.
What This Means For People With Alzheimers
First off, its important to note that having hearing loss doesnt mean your loved one is going to develop Alzheimers. Many people begin to have trouble hearing in their senior years and manage to live out those years without experiencing dementia. But the link does suggest to us that if we can do something to minimize hearing loss, theres a decent chance that we can also minimize the likelihood of getting Alzheimers or the severity of it if someone does get it.
In fact, theres an additional study that bears this theory out. Researchers at a hospital in Paris provided a number of people with deafness in at least one ear with a cochlear implant and tracked their cognitive performance before and after receiving the implant along with auditory rehabilitation. 80% of the people studied showed cognitive improvement within a year. For comparison, those are better results by nearly double than any FDA-approved drugs for treating dementia.
Any senior experiencing hearing loss should make a point to seek out treatments for it. Not only will it make it much easier to communicate with friends and loved ones and continue to participate in the many everyday activities that require hearing, but it could help them avoid or stave off Alzheimers for longer.
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Hearing Problems Might Be A Red Flag For Memory Loss
Hearing loss increases your chance of developing depression, cognitive impairment, social isolation, and anxiety. These issues, however, can be resolved with consistent usage of hearing aids if prescribed for your hearing loss. Hearing aids can assist in reestablishing communication function and enhancing auditory memory and communication abilities. The University of Marylands Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences conducted a six-month study in which they tracked a group of first-time hearing aid users with mild to moderate hearing loss. The research team assessed the individuals memory and hearing using a variety of cognitive and behavioural measures.
Sinusitis can result in headaches above the left eye. Sinus headaches are brought on by inflammation and pressure in the skulls sinuses. To alleviate head pressure, you should drink the suggested amount of water according to your demographics to avoid dehydration. The brain control mechanism can be used to explain why this type of symptom happens. Begin cautiously and work at a pressure level that feels comfortable to you. You may experience a loss of hearing.
The Role Of Central Auditory Processing
Auditory deficits in AD may be disproportionate to any abnormality of sound detection or otological markers : while the neuroanatomical correlates of âcentralâ hearing measures have not been fully defined, such deficits may reflect disordered cortical mechanisms of auditory scene analysis . This is corroborated by other evidence that abnormalities of auditory cortical evoked potentials predate clinical symptoms in young carriers of pathogenic AD mutations . Information for other dementias remains very limited. Relatively, a few studies of hearing in dementia have addressed cortical auditory processing specifically, perhaps partly accounting for the wide variation in reported frequency of hearing impairment in AD : an observation that seems otherwise difficult to reconcile with epidemiological data.
The effects of hearing impairment on cognitive decline might be most parsimoniously considered as an interaction of peripheral and more central factors. The auditory system has extensive efferent as well as afferent traffic allowing for reciprocal interaction between cortical, brainstem, and peripheral mechanisms . Moreover, in practice, these can be challenging to disambiguate in individual patients.
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Why Do My Ears Feel Wet Inside
Wet ears typically mean disease, most likely infection. Ear infections create pus, so that might be why your ear feels wet. That is not the only possible cause, though. It is also possible that you have a type of skin growth inside your ear canal called a cholesteatoma.
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The Hidden Risks Of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is frustrating for those who have it and for their loved ones. But recent research from Johns Hopkins reveals that it also is linked with walking problems, falls and even dementia.
In a study that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years, Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.
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Impaired Perception Of Sound Features
Patients with dementia may have reduced perception of sound disproportionate to any damage involving cochlea or ascending auditory pathways: this may manifest as cortical deafness or relatively selective âword deafnessâ or auditory agnosia, more commonly described with progressive nonfluent aphasia and in Japanese patients . A useful clinical clue to word deafness is substantially better comprehension of written than spoken language. Speech perception may be particularly vulnerable as it depends on precise temporal feature decoding but may signify a more generic impairment of auditory feature analysis in syndromes with peri-Sylvian degeneration .
Understanding The Auditory Process
Believe it or not, hearing is the fastest sense that you have. Sight comes second, because it takes longer for information from your eyes to get to your brain. Meanwhile, it only takes your brain 0.05 seconds to recognize a sound wave, once it reaches your ear.
Your outer ear is responsible for conducting sound. This means the outer ear picks up sound in your environment. Sound waves travel through to the middle ear, where they are amplified and turned into vibrations by the ear drum. These vibrations travel to the inner ear, where they are translated into neural signals by your inner ear hair cells. These neural signals then travel to the brain, where they are processed as sounds.
There are a number of different causes for hearing loss. One of the most common causes is sensorineural hearing loss, caused by the loss of inner ear hair cells. Exposure to loud noises or certain classes of medication can damage these inner ear hair cells once they are gone, they do not regenerate. As a result, sensorineural hearing loss affects the way our brains process sound.
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