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.
The Relationship Between Hearing Loss And Cognitive Decline
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have carried out several studies over the years to determine the connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss. The results of each study revealed the same story: cognitive decline was more prevalent with individuals who suffer from hearing loss. One study revealed, in fact, that there was a 24% higher instance of Alzheimers in people who have impaired hearing.
Hearing loss by itself does not cause dementia, but there is a connection between the two conditions. The leading theories suggest that your brain must work overtime when you cant properly process sounds. That means that activities such as memory and cognition, which demand more energy, cant function efficiently because your brain has to spend so much of that energy on more basic tasks.
Your mental health can also be severely affected by hearing loss. Anxiety, social isolation, and depression have all been associated with hearing loss and there could even be a connection with schizophrenia. All of these disorders also lead to cognitive decline as noted above, one of the best ways to maintain your mental acuity is to stay socially engaged. Frequently, individuals who have hearing loss will turn to self isolation because they feel self conscious in public. The mental problems listed above are typically the outcome of the lack of human interaction and can ultimately lead to serious cognitive decline.
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.
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How Hearing Loss Contributes To Cognitive Decline
The link between hearing loss and cognitive decline has been examined numerous times over the years by researchers at Johns Hopkins. The results of each study revealed the same story: individuals with hearing loss suffered from dementia and cognitive decline in higher rates than those without. Actually, one study demonstrated that people with hearing loss were 24% more likely to develop Alzheimers than people with healthy hearing.
Though dementia isnt directly caused by hearing loss there is definitely a connection. The leading theories indicate that your brain must work overtime when you cant properly process sounds. That means your brain is using more valuable energy on relatively simple activities, leaving a lot less of that energy for more challenging processes such as cognitive function and memory.
Your mental health can also be significantly impacted by hearing loss. Research has shown that hearing loss is connected to depression, social isolation, anxiety, and might even influence schizophrenia. Remaining socially engaged, as noted, is the best way to safeguard your mental health and preserve your cognitive clarity. In many cases, hearing loss causes individuals to feel self-conscious around others, which means theyll turn to isolation instead. The mental problems listed above are typically the outcome of the lack of human contact and can inevitably produce serious cognitive decline.
Beyond Hearing Loss: Does Tinnitus Cause Cognitive Impairment
It is commonly believed that tinnitus patients may have difficulties with attention span and memory. Many studies have reported that poor cognitive performance was associated with tinnitus. However, unlike hearing loss, which has been reported to be an independent risk factor for dementia, the link between tinnitus and cognitive impairment remains unclear .
Mild cognitive impairment refers to an intermediate cognitive state in elderly individuals, somewhere between the state of those aging normally and those with dementia. Patients with MCI are known to have a higher risk of developing dementia. In a cross-sectional study, Lee et al. attempted to determine whether there was a relationship between tinnitus and MCI, and established that higher tinnitus handicap inventory scores, reflecting tinnitus severity, were associated with lower scores on a Korean version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. Similarly, mean hearing levels and tinnitus severity were significant predictors of MCI. The authors concluded that the cognitive function of aged tinnitus patients should be assessed as part of the initial work-up for tinnitus.
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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.
How Cannabinoids Make Tinnitus Worse
There are a couple of concrete ways in which cannabinoids can make your tinnitus experience worse. First, the incidents of tinnitus symptoms can become more frequentyou might notice the ringing or buzzing in your ears more often. Cannabinoids can also make those tinnitus episodes more intense. The discomfort from the ringing might become louder or harder to ignore.
The research also seems to indicate that cannabinoids are capable of causing the development of initial tinnitus symptoms. Or, said another way: if you didnt have tinnitus before, you might develop tinnitus after using cannabinoids.
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Find A Hearing Care Partner
Keep your edge well into old age. Catch and treat hearing loss early to slow or stop its progression.
Instead of wondering about how a potential hearing loss might affect you, find out where you or a loved one stands. Get a free comprehensive hearing screening from one of our hearing care professionals.
Linking Tinnitus And Dementia
Tinnitus makes it difficult for many people to relax and focus. This constant attention can cause mental fatigue, exhaustion, and depression. Insomnia and troubled sleep have also been linked to tinnitus, and lack of sleep can have serious, detrimental effects to anyone’s health. When combined with the social isolation and lack of communication that hearing loss can cause, tinnitus can deeply influence an elderly person’s health and wellbeing.
Tinnitus and hearing loss also cause the brain to “reorganize”. In order to cope with the loss of hearing, the brain stops performing certain functions in order to compensate. The areas of the brain dedicated to memory and concentration are the first to go, and the loss of these functions can lead to the onset of dementia.
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Beware The Miracle Cure
There has certainly been no shortage of marketing hype surrounding cannabinoids in recent years. In part, thats due to changing attitudes surrounding cannabinoids themselves . But this new research makes clear that cannabinoids can and do produce some negative effects, especially if youre concerned about your hearing.
Youll never be able to avoid all of the cannabinoid enthusiasts and evangelists in the worldthe marketing for cannabinoids has been especially, um, aggressive lately.
But this new research certainly suggests a strong link between tinnitus and cannabinoids. So if you have tinnitusor if youre worried about tinnitusit might be worth steering clear of cannabinoids if you can, no matter how many adverts for CBD oil you might come across. The link between cannabinoids and tinnitus symptoms has been pretty firmly established by the research, so its worth exercising a little caution.
Hearing Loss And Social Isolation
The third link between hearing loss and Alzheimers is social isolation. A study by The National Council on the Aging of 2,300 hearing impaired adults found that people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to experience loneliness, worry, depression, anxiety, and paranoiaand are less likely to join organized and casual social activities. When a person withdraws from life, their risk for dementia intensifies. In short, the less we stimulate our brains by interacting with other people, places, and thingsand the less we use our brains to hear and listenthe more quickly our brains decline, putting us at greater risk for dementia.
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How Hearing Loss May Change The Brain
Hearing loss does seem to shrink some parts of the brain responsible for auditory response. In a study led by Jonathan Peelle, now at Washington University in St. Louis, older adults underwent brain scans while they listened to sentences of varying complexity. They also took tests that measured gray matter, the regions of the brain involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control.
It turned out that the neurons in people with hearing loss were less active when they focused on complex sentences. They also had less gray matter in the auditory areas. These effects may accumulate with time or be triggered by age: In other research, Peelle found that older adults with hearing loss do worse on speech comprehension tasks than younger adults with hearing loss.
Obstructions In The Middle Ear
Blockages in the ear canal can cause pressure to build up in the inner ear, affecting the operation of the ear drum. Moreover, objects directly touching the ear drum can irritate the organ and cause the perception of tinnitus symptoms. Common obstructions include:
- Excessive ear wax
- Loose hair from the ear canal
- Dirt or foreign objects
In many cases, the removal of the blockage will alleviate tinnitus symptoms. However, in some situations, the blockage may have caused permanent damage that leads to chronic tinnitus.
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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.
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 Alzheimer’s 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 person’s 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.
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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.
I Heard That Hearing Aids Are Difficult To Use
There is a breaking-in period as youand your central auditory system and brainadjust to life with hearing aids. Thats why most doctors and hearing centers include a trial period, so you can be sure the type youve chosenwhether its a miniature behind-the-ear model or one that fits into your earis right for you.
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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.
Link Between Tinnitus And Dementia
Tinnitus refers to a ringing in the ears that frequently accompanies hearing loss. Based on the stats from the Hearing Health Foundation, an approximated 48 million people in the United States and nearly 477 million worldwide experience these symptoms, especially as they age. While initial tinnitus seldom indicates a serious condition, it can be really challenging to deal with as it advances and ends up being more severe. link between tinnitus and dementia
There might be lots of possible causes of tinnitus. Sadly, as soon as tinnitus sets in, it is really difficult to get rid of the ringing noise.
In the myriad of readily available solutions, customers can get extremely confused as to which are great choices to take to address their tinnitus difficulties. We intend to examine the offered options and sift out the finest tinnitus relief supplements for 2021. link between tinnitus and dementia
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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:
What Can I Do To Reduce The Risk Of Hearing Loss And Potentially Developing Alzheimers As A Result
Thankfully, there are lots of things that can be done to mitigate the risks of suffering hearing loss and increasing your chances of developing dementia. The most obvious thing to do is limit your exposure to excessive noise levels. Simple things like making sure the volume on your headphones isnt too loud is a great start, and many modern smartphones even allow you to restrict the volume limit from exceeding the recommended EU safety level. You can also wear earplugs at music events and festivals to ensure that loud music doesnt cause irreversible damage to your ears, and wear the correct PPE if you work in industries like construction, manufacturing, assembly and entertainment .
If youre an employer or are involved with an organisation or business that is prone to excessive noise levels, then we can help you by supplying market-leading noise measurement instrumentation. Whether its a sound level meter or a noise dosimeter to measure peoples exposure in the workplace, or a permanently installed noise monitor to measure aircraft and airport noise, we have the perfect tools along with a dedicated support team to help you protect people against the dangers of excessive noise exposure.
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