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Is Tinnitus Associated With Dementia

Symptoms Of Sight And Hearing Loss

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

The symptoms of sight and hearing loss can be similar to some of the early signs of dementia.

For example, you might become confused about where you are or struggle to follow a conversation. This can make it hard to tell what is down to dementia and what is down to sight or hearing loss. This can make diagnosing dementia in someone with sight or hearing loss more difficult. It can also make diagnosing sight and hearing problems in a person with dementia more difficult as well.

Tips: communicating with someone with dementia

Get tips on how to communicate with somebody who has dementia, including what to say, how to speak, and how to listen.

Dementia and sight loss are both more common as you get older.

There are many causes of sight loss in people with dementia, including:

  • eye conditions, such as cataracts or macular degeneration
  • other health conditions, such as stroke
  • normal ageing of the eye.

These are all ways in which the visual system can be damaged, causing a person to lose vision.

However, people with dementia can also have visual difficulties because the dementia affects the parts of their brain that handle visual information coming from the eyes. This means they will have visual problems, but have healthy eyes.

Race Effect On Hearing Loss And Tinnitus

It is difficult to explain the race dependency of tinnitus compensation for hearing loss-associated cognitive decline. At present, few studies examined the race or ethnicity variations in hearing loss and tinnitus, producing inconsistent findings, especially related to the Hispanic community. For example, one report found that hearing loss is less common among Mexican Americans than non-Hispanic whites , another showed similar prevalence between the Hispanic and other populations . The present study showed a similar discrepancy that 21.0% of the NHANES and 26.4% of the HCHS participants had hearing loss, but 23.8% of the NHANES participants reported tinnitus, compared to 43.2% of the HCHS participants. Other studies have also reported that non-Hispanic whites have higher odds of frequent tinnitus compared with other racial/ethnic groups . Golub et al. found after adjusting for covariates there was no statistically significant association between PTA and cognition in the NHANES but a significant association in the HCHS. The inconsistent finding between the two databases can be partially accounted for by the present result that the hearing-impaired non-Hispanic population with tinnitus had better cognitive performance than that without tinnitus, which would reduce the overall effect of hearing loss on cognition in NHANES.

The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Dementia

Hearing loss and dementia seem unrelated to the majority of us. Aside from the fact that they both accompany aging, one has to do with ones ears, and the other has to do with ones brain.

However, multiple studies have shown they are actually closely related. In the latest study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin, cognitively healthy adults in their fifties and sixties who had been diagnosed with hearing loss were shown to face double the risk of developing dementia within five years.

Other studies have shown that risk of dementia increases as hearing loss increases. According to a study by a researcher at Johns Hopkins, mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss made the odds of dementia two, three, and five times higher in the next decade or more, respectively. Whats more, cognitive impairment seems to occur faster in those who have hearing loss. Older adults with hearing loss experienced mental decline an average of 30-40 percent faster.

This correlation affects many of us. Hearing loss is a common ailment in late middle age. At age 65, about one in three adults experiences hearing loss. For adults over 70, two in three have some degree of hearing loss. Dementia is slightly less common, but still prevalent about one in three Americans will die with some form of dementia.

Read Also: What’s The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimer’s And Senility

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.

The Initial Causes Is Tinnitus Associated With Dementia

Understanding Alzheimer

There are many causes of hearing loss. These include loss of hair cells , damage done to the brain stem due to disease or an infection, and a buildup of wax in the ears. Any combination of these can cause the brain to send wrong signals to the ears causing them to lose hearing. Oftentimes, there is no way to know whether or not you are suffering from hearing loss without having your ears checked. The only way to make sure is to undergo a hearing test.

Many people believe that they are going crazy or having a break out when they have a constant ringing, buzzing, screaming, or hissing sound in their ears. They think it is going to come and go. But, the truth is that it can take weeks or even months to go away depending on the underlying medical condition causing it. Once you know for sure what is causing your hearing loss, you can find a good treatment to fix it so you can once again enjoy great quality hearing.

Tinnitus isnt actually a disorder in and of itself its more of a symptom for another underlying condition. In many instances, tinnitus simply is a sensory reaction in the inner ear and hearing system to damage to these systems. While tinnitus can be caused by hearing loss alone, there are about 200 other health conditions which can produce tinnitus as a result. This condition is different for each person, although common symptoms include high-pitched ringing, pulsing noises, or continuous clicking or whirring.

Read Also: Alzheimers Awareness Symbol

The Link Between Hearing Loss And Dementia

This article is written and owned by the Hearing Loss Association of America: Los Angeles Chapter and can be found here.

Recent research has indicated that older adults with hearing loss are significantly more likely to experience cognitive decline than those with normal hearing. With the prevalence of dementia expected to double every two decades, identifying strategies to combat this debilitating condition has become a public health priority. If hearing loss is a risk factor for cognitive decline, effectively treating hearing loss could be a way to help fight dementia.

Recent Research Findings

Dr. Frank Lin, epidemiologist and otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins University, recently led two major studies that found an independent association between hearing loss and dementia . Adults with hearing loss in both studies were significantly more likely to experience cognitive decline than those with normal hearing.

Lins 2011 study included 639 subjects, ranging from 36 to 90 years old. Those who suffered from hearing loss at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop dementia, and the likelihood was greater if the hearing loss was more severe. For every 10 decibels of hearing lost, the likelihood of developing Alzheimers disease increased by 20 percent .

What Is Causing The Link?

A Common Physiological Pathway
Cognitive Load
Changes to Brain Structure
Reduced Social Stimulation

Hearing Aids Can Help Those Who Have Alzheimers

If a loved one is showing signs of dementia,help them get their hearing checked sooner than later. Sometimes, undiagnosed hearing loss symptoms are thought to be Alzheimers symptoms when theyre really not.

For those with Alzheimers, hearing loss can aggravate symptoms. A hearing impairment makes it difficult to listen, reply, and respond to verbal cues. It escalates feelings of confusion, isolation, and paranoia.Hearing aids can help relieve Alzheimers symptoms, and several styles are easy for a person with cognitive impairment to use. An American Journal of Epidemiology study found that hearing aids slowed the rate of memory decline and improved the quality of life for Alzheimers patients with hearing loss.Its important to find out the facts. Partner with the hearing care experts at Beltone to understand all the options.

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Tinnitus Duration Correlates With Cognitive Performance

Figure 5 shows the adjusted cognitive performance as a function of the tinnitus attributes in NHANES and HCHS. In the NHANES cohort, only tinnitus duration was associated with improved cognitive performance relative to a participant with tinnitus duration less than 3 months, a participant with tinnitus duration of 59 years had better cognitive z-score by 0.5 . Cognitive performance was not significantly associated with tinnitus severity or frequency in the NHANES, or with tinnitus frequency in the HCHS cohort .

Hearing Loss Affected By Not Wearing Hearing Aids

Did You Know, hearing loss and dementia are connected to each-other?

Hearing impaired patients often postpone getting hearing aids because they feel that their hearing loss is not bad enough. Hearing loss gradually progresses whether you wear hearing aids or not, however, while your hearing will not technically worsen because you dont wear hearing aids, speech discrimination will most likely decrease faster. When it comes to hearing, the use it or lose it principle holds true.

People with hearing impairment miss sounds that are meant to be heard, and the fewer sounds you hear, the less the hearing nerve and brain are stimulated. The auditory cortex, which is the brains sound processor, needs to be stimulated, or exercised, to remain healthy.

Wearing hearing aids allows more sound to be heard, thus more stimulation to the hearing nerve, and ultimately a better functioning auditory cortex. Treating hearing loss early is especially important since once the hearing nerve is affected by lack of stimulation, reversal is not possible.

Additional research is currently underway to find out if hearing loss treatments can definitively delay or prevent cognitive decline, and results are expected as soon as 2020. Professional consensus appears to be that treating hearing loss may be one of the best options for diminishing the risk of dementia and for stimulating the auditory cortex in order to maintain brain health in those who have impaired hearing.

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Why Has Rehabilitating Hearing Impairment To Prevent Or Slow Cognitive Decline Not Been Well Studied

Of all the risk factors for Alzheimers disease , hearing impairment has probably been the least well studied, yet it is the one with potentially a very robust therapeutic approach. Furthermore, hearing aid use is very low, less than 25% in the US.Reference Gorman, Reed and Lin4 Hearing aids are still subject to great stigma and expense, as well as poor coverage by insurance or Medicare. Too often, hearing impairment is an afterthought for clinicians treating aging patients who have risk factors for Alzheimers disease or who already have signs of cognitive loss. Clinicians should switch from a generally reactive approach to a proactive approach that encourages hearing restoration, which at this point would do no harm and might be helpful for cognition. It is certainly plausible that increased auditory stimulation could reduce the rate of cognitive decline, as well as promote social engagement and reduce cognitive load . Uncontrolled studies already suggest a protective effect of hearing aid use on cognitive decline,Reference Mulrow, Aguilar and Endicott15Reference Kalluri and Humes17 but this might be due in part to those who choose to use hearing aids being generally healthier and having higher socio-economic status than those who choose not to use hearing aids. What is needed are large, randomized, controlled trials to determine if treating hearing loss reduces the risk of dementia or slows the rate of cognitive decline.

Limitations And Future Directions

There are two major limitations. First, this is a retrospective cross-sectional study with a narrow age range and a relatively limited sample, where only an association rather than a causal relationship between tinnitus and cognition could be determined. Second, tinnitus characterization is based on a simple binary question on the absence or presence of tinnitus. Longitudinal data are needed to directly address whether and how tinnitus is associated with hearing loss-associated cognitive decline, and their interactions with age, sex, and race factors. Brain imaging and electrophysiological studies will likely shed light on mechanisms underlying both hearing loss and tinnitus, as well as their functional and structural relationship to dementia . Future studies need to investigate if tinnitus simulations in participants with hearing loss but no tinnitus might delay or even prevent dementia. Possibly, both actual and simulated tinnitus may counteract the neuroplastic changes in response to auditory deprivation . Additionally, future studies should include rehabilitation outcome measures that go beyond hearing and tinnitus assessment to include cognitive domains, particularly in the elderly . Finally, because the impact of hearing loss on cognition might be higher without tinnitus than with tinnitus, clinicians should pay special attention to individuals with hearing loss but no tinnitus to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Also Check: Alzheimer’s Dementia Definition

Tinnitus Correlates With Improved Cognition In Non

Figure 2C shows that while no association between tinnitus and cognition was observed in the normal hearing sub-cohort , the hearing loss sub-cohort produced an unexpected result, namely, tinnitus was associated with better cognitive performance compared to no tinnitus . At the individual test level, only the CERAD word-learning test produced a significant association between tinnitus and improved cognitive performance for the hearing loss sub-cohort . All the other individual tests showed no statistically significant association between tinnitus and cognition in the two sub-cohorts.

Figure 2D shows that within the HCHS cohort, tinnitus was not associated with cognitive performance in the normal hearing , nor the hearing loss sub-cohorts. The lack of a tinnitus effect on cognition in the HCHS cohort begs a question: Would the same result be obtained for the Hispanic sub-cohort in the NHANES database?

Figures 2E,F show the cumulative frequency distribution in the NHANES non-Hispanic and Hispanic sub-cohorts, respectively. In the non-Hispanic hearing loss sub-cohort , tinnitus was significantly associated with better cognitive performance , but this significant tinnitus effect disappeared, as expected from the HCHS result, in the NHANES Hispanic hearing loss sub-cohort . Normal hearing groups, Hispanic and non-Hispanic , showed no association between tinnitus and cognition.

What Research On Dementia And Hearing Loss Reveals

Neurofeedback shows promise in treating tinnitus

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.

More: Slight hearing loss linked to cognitive decline in new study

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The Link Between Tinnitus And Dementia

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.

Tinnitus

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 weren’t 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 patient’s 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.

The Initial Causes Is Tinnitus A Sign Of Dementia

There are many causes of hearing loss. These include loss of hair cells , damage done to the brain stem due to disease or an infection, and a buildup of wax in the ears. Any combination of these can cause the brain to send wrong signals to the ears causing them to lose hearing. Oftentimes, there is no way to know whether or not you are suffering from hearing loss without having your ears checked. The only way to make sure is to undergo a hearing test.

Many people believe that they are going crazy or having a break out when they have a constant ringing, buzzing, screaming, or hissing sound in their ears. They think it is going to come and go. But, the truth is that it can take weeks or even months to go away depending on the underlying medical condition causing it. Once you know for sure what is causing your hearing loss, you can find a good treatment to fix it so you can once again enjoy great quality hearing.

Tinnitus isnt actually a disorder in and of itself its more of a symptom for another underlying condition. In many instances, tinnitus simply is a sensory reaction in the inner ear and hearing system to damage to these systems. While tinnitus can be caused by hearing loss alone, there are about 200 other health conditions which can produce tinnitus as a result. This condition is different for each person, although common symptoms include high-pitched ringing, pulsing noises, or continuous clicking or whirring.

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