Hearing Aids May Help Lower Your Risk For Cognitive Impairment
While the jury is still out on whether reverse cognitive decline, there is plenty of evidence to suggest they can delay the onset of dementia.
Seeking treatment for your hearing loss gives your brain more of the workout it needs by:
- Reintroducing sound stimulation to the auditory center.
- Keeping you aware of your surroundings.
- Reducing your brains need to overcompensate for the auditory cortex.
When you wear hearing aids, your brain can compartmentalize its duties again. That means the parts of your brain responsible for learning and forming short- and long-term memories arent working so hard to process sound.
The team at Audio Help Hearing Centers is committed to helping you preserve your hearing and reducing your risk of developing dementia. online or call to schedule your appointment.
Risk For Different Forms Of Dementia
The researchers analyzed the link between DSI and three types of dementia: all-cause dementia, Alzheimers-related dementia, and vascular dementia.
The chances of acquiring Alzheimers-related dementia are even higher. The study indicated that people with DSI are 112% more likely to develop Alzheimers than those without any impairment.
Hwang and his colleagues found no association between DSI and vascular dementia.
Hearing Loss And Dementia: A Meta
- 1Jiangsu Provincial Key Medical Discipline , Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Affiliated Drum Tower Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, Nanjing, China
- 2Department of Neurology, The Fourth Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China
Background: Consensus is lacking with regard to whether hearing loss is an independent risk factor for dementia. We therefore conducted a meta-analysis to clarify the relationship of hearing loss and dementia.
Methods: Prospective cohort studies investigating the association between hearing loss and the incidence of dementia in a community-derived population were included by searching electronic databases that included PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane’s Library. A random-effects model was adopted to combine the results.
Results: Fourteen cohorts including 726,900 participants were analyzed. It was shown that hearing loss was independently associated with dementia . Sensitivity analysis sequentially excluding any of the individual studies included showed similar results. Subgroup analysis according to the diagnostic methods for hearing loss, validation strategy for dementia, follow-up duration, and adjustment of apolipoprotein E genotype also showed consistent results . Meta-analysis with five studies showed that hearing loss was also connected to higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease .
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What Can You Do
If you want try to lower your chances of hearing loss as you age, try to keep your heart healthy, protect your hearing from loud noises, and dont smoke.
Smoking is a big risk factor for sensory loss — vision and hearing, says Heather Whitson, MD, at Duke Health.
Even when they take precautions, some people are simply more likely to get hearing loss in older age. In those cases, can using hearing aids protect you from dementia?
Thats the billion-dollar question, Lin says.
Lin is leading a 5-year clinical trial studying 850 people to see if hearing aids can cut dementia.
Even without the proof, Lin says theres no downside to using hearing aids. In fact, theres often a big upside to getting help for your hearing loss.
With a very simple intervention, we could make a big difference improving quality of life, Lin said.
In a pilot study, people with dementia started wearing inexpensive, over-the-counter devices to boost their hearing. A month later, their caregivers reported improved communication, more laughter, and more storytelling.
If youre an older adult with hearing loss, it would make sense to treat that hearing loss, says Richard Gurgel, MD, of the University of Utah.
If you think your hearing has gotten worse with age, Gurgel recommends a hearing screening. The relatively quick, painless test can help you notice how your hearing changes as you get older and if a hearing aid would help you.
Availability Of Data And Materials
The data that support our findings this study are available from the NHIRD, but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study; thus, they are not publicly available. Data are, however, available from the authors upon reasonable request and with the permission of the NHIRD.
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Hearing Loss Alters Brain Shape
As we age, the connections between our brain cells weaken. That degeneration is exacerbated by hearing loss because the brains auditory center is no longer receiving input.
The lack of stimulation causes that portion of the brain to atrophy and shrink. Less gray matter in the brains auditory center means theres less muscle to do the necessary work of processing sound stimuli. Its that brain shrinkage that increases the likelihood of dementia and other memory loss conditions.
What Are The Evidences For Hearing Loss And Dementia / Alzheimers Disease
Growing evidences have suggested that hearing impairment is independently associated with a 30-40% rate of accelerated cognitive decline and with a substantially increased risk of incident all-cause dementia.
Compared to individuals with normal hearing, people with a mild, moderate, and severe hearing impairment, respectively, had a 2-, 3-, and 5-fold increased risk of incident all-cause dementia over >10 years of follow-up.
Neuroimaging studies have also shown independent associations of hearing impairment with reduced cortical volumes in the auditory cortex and accelerated rates of lateral temporal lobe and whole brain atrophy.
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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 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.
Hearing Loss And Dementia: Advice For Care Staff
On average, people who develop hearing loss wait ten years after they first notice symptoms before they seek help . This means that a person may have developed other long-term conditions such as dementia alongside their hearing loss. Their circumstances may have changed and may well lose the opportunity to get hearing aids.
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Can Hearing Aids Help Prevent Dementia
Hearing loss is the third most common health condition affecting older adults, occurring in one-third of people over age 65 and in two-thirds of those over age 70 . It has been identified as one of the top potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia by the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care . Although studies suggest that restoring auditory input may help protect cognitive function and improve quality of life , hearing aids are expensive. There are several factors to consider when determining how to cope with hearing loss.
WHAT THE EVIDENCE SAYS
Mild hearing loss is associated with two-fold greater risk for dementia, while severe hearing loss is associated with 5 times greater risk over 10 years . Several longitudinal studies have found that the rate of cognitive decline is accelerated in dementia patients with hearing loss . Participants with hearing loss experienced rates of cognitive decline that were 30-50% faster than those with normal hearing .
A recent study following over 1,000 participants in the Rancho Bernardo Study of Healthy Aging for up to 24 years found that hearing impairment was associated with faster age-related declines in global and executive cognitive function . The cognitive decline associated with mild hearing loss was reduced in individuals who attained higher education, but education could not protect against declines associated with moderate to severe hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Affects Social Isolation
Hearing loss can cause social withdrawal. Its common for people with hearing loss to feel embarrassed by the need to ask others to repeat themselves, and that can limit their interactions. Being in noisy environments, such as restaurants, also causes mental fatigue because your brain tries to process lots of sounds at once.
Social isolation means fewer conversations that would otherwise produce the auditory stimulation your brain needs to stay in shape. That creates a vicious cycle; your lack of social interaction will continue to affect your brains ability to process sound, which may make you withdraw more.
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Take Action Youre Worth It
While there isnt enough research to conclude the direct link between hearing loss and dementia, you can take preventative measures today that can help you shape a healthier tomorrow. These simple steps can inspire a more comfortable lifestyle and keep your mind active and engaged.
- Get your hearing checked. Early detection is critical to avoid negative effects of untreated hearing loss like social isolation and cognitive decline. You and your hearing care professional can explore different treatment and hearing solution options that might work best for you.
- Explore hearing technology. Studies show that hearings aids can delay the onset of dementia and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Contact your audiologist and set up a hearing evaluation to see if hearing aids are the right approach for you. You can also pair hearing aids with captioned phone calls to keep you connected with family and friends!
- Live a healthy lifestyle. A diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat products can help keep your brain healthy. For example, evidence show that people who eat a Mediterranean diet are at a lower risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia. For more on cognitive health visit the National Institute on Aging.
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Watch For Signs Of Infection
A middle ear infection is the most common cause of hearing loss in kids. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 75 percent of children experience at least one before they turn 3. When ear infections recur, they can cause damage to the eardrum, bones, or hearing nerve and may lead to permanent hearing loss.
Watch for ear pulling or scratching, fatigue, irritability, and lack of attention. Older kids with hearing loss may misunderstand your words or consistently turn the volume of the TV up. Call your doctor if you see any signs. Ear infections should be treated promptly, Kim said.
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What Causes Hearing Loss
According to the National Institutes of Health, age-related hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults and hearing loss risk doubles each decade. Nearly two out of three adults 70 and older have hearing loss that affects daily communication. There is no known single cause of age related hearing loss according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. However, family history, exposure to loud noises, smoking, and diabetes all contribute to age-related hearing loss. Hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone-anchored hearing systems and assistive listening devices.
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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Dementia And Hearing Loss
Many people with dementia will also be living with hearing loss. It is common for people to develop gradual hearing loss as they age. People with hearing loss are also more likely to develop dementia, although at present we dont know why this is. Living with both conditions can present challenges, but there are many things which can help people to live well with both hearing loss and dementia.
Someone may have acquired hearing loss which has developed during the persons lifetime . Other people may have been born deaf or became deaf at a young age and are considered to have profound deafness. They may consider themselves as Deaf , use British Sign Language as their first language and identify with the Deaf community.
In this section we look at acquired hearing loss the problems with telling the difference between signs of dementia and acquired hearing loss, and how to help someone who has both.
Data Extracting And Quality Evaluation
Two authors implemented database search, data extraction, and study quality assessment separately. If disagreements occurred, they were discussed with the corresponding author. These data were recorded: author and study year; participant characteristics, including number of participants included, mean age, and sex; methods for the evaluation of hearing loss; follow-up durations; methods for validation of dementia or AD outcomes, and numbers of cases with outcomes reported in each study; and potential confounding factors adjusted in the multivariate analyses. The NewcastleOttawa Scale was used for study quality evaluation. This scale is rated from 1 to 9 stars and reflected the quality of the study by aspects of participants selection, comparability between groups, and outcome validation.
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Hearing Aids Can Help Prevent Dementia
Numerous studies show that hearing aids not only improve a persons hearingthey also help preserve a persons independence, mental abilities, emotional and physical health, and work, home, and social lives. A full, happy life keeps your brain active.
Early identification and treatment of a potential hearing loss helps minimize risks later in life.;
Wondering what a hearing test is like? Find out what to expect here.
Looking At The Stats Of Demantia
Experts discovered that a persons risks of mental decline increase as they lose their hearing. Mild hearing loss seems to increase the chances of developing dementia two times higher in the next ten years. Moderate loss of hearing increases the risks three times, and severe hearing loss increases the risks of dementia five times.
Aside from the increased chances of developing dementia, hearing loss seems to expedite the process. Scientists discovered that mental decline in people with dementia is 30 to 40 percent faster than in people with normal hearing.
Although there are no definite links between the two medical conditions, an expert formulated theories on why hearing loss and dementia seem to go hand in hand. The expert is Johns Hopkins Universitys very own Frank Lin, MD, Ph.D.
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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.
Dementia And Ongoing Management Of Hearing Loss
Where a person has dementia, people working with them may need to take additional steps to help them to manage their hearing loss. For example, a person with dementia may really struggle to adjust to using a hearing aid. They may not be able to recall that they have a hearing problem or that they have a hearing aid. They may not recognise what the hearing is for or when they do remember to wear it, how to use it effectively. They may fiddle with it or refuse to wear it regularly and intermittent use may create more difficulties with remembering how to use it.
For all these sorts of problems, the help of other people can make a huge difference. If care or support staff are observant, they can pick on a persons behaviours and know what to look out for and offer in supporting that person best.
These observations should then be recorded clearly. All those offering care and support to a person with dementia need to know the persons communication needs and this should be recorded in the care or support plans. This information needs to be put to good use in day-to-day situations, but also in more complex situations, such as supporting the person at a hospital appointment.
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Dsi And The Risk Of Dementia
The final data set that Hwang and his colleagues studied consisted of 2,051 individuals. Of these, 1,480 people had neither hearing nor visual loss. 14.9% reported visual impairment, and 7.8% reported hearing loss. Just 5.1%, or 104 individuals, had DSI.
Compared to participants who did not have hearing or visual loss, those reporting DSI were more likely to be male, have other comorbidities, and describe themselves as smokers and drinkers.
The GEM studys follow-up examinations revealed the following likelihoods of developing dementia:
- 14.3% of those without any reported hearing or vision loss developed dementia.
- 16.9% of those reporting a single impairment developed dementia.
- 28.8% of those with DSI developed dementia.
People with both hearing and visual loss were nearly twice as likely to develop dementia as those without such impairments.
However, according to the results, the increased risk of dementia for an individual with DSI is only somewhat related to the severity of hearing and visual impairment.
While those classified as having a high level of DSI are at the greatest risk of developing dementia, those with lower DSI levels also have a significantly higher risk of dementia.
Connection Between Hearing Loss And Dementia / Alzheimers Disease
It was in 1989, thats almost 22 years ago, a case control study published in Journal of the American Medical Association, first reported that hearing impairment in older adults was strongly and independently associated with the likelihood of having dementia .
But due to various reasons, this study received only little attention till recently, and today scientists have confirmed the association between untreated Hearing loss and Dementia / Alzheimers disease.
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What Is The Link
So why is it that hearing loss may be a risk factor for dementia? While the two may seem unconnected at first glance, there are actually a number of factors that can contribute to this connection. The base reason is that hearing is one of our primary senses, and we use those senses to connect to the world.
When we cant hear as well, a few things happen; for one thing, our brains get preoccupied trying to understand whats being said. Imagine trying to have a conversation with someone while you had cotton balls in your ears. You would spend a lot of mental energy just trying to hear what was being said, and thats mentally exhausting.
Because socializing becomes so much harder with hearing loss, people who suffer from it are less likely to be social. But an important part of fighting dementia is staying mentally active. When we stay home, our brains dont get as much stimulation, and those pathways can start to shut down.
Which brings us to another connection point: with hearing loss comes a lack of stimulation to various areas of the brain. The part of the brain that deals with sensory input from the ears isnt getting any information. Neither are the parts of the brain that get ignored in favor of trying to hear whats going on in a conversation.
Frontiers In Aging Neuroscience
University of Southern California, United States
Columbia University, United States
The editor and reviewers’ affiliations are the latest provided on their Loop research profiles and may not reflect their situation at the time of review.
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Understanding The Link Between Hearing Loss And Dementia
- Newcastle University
- Scientists have developed a new theory as to how hearing loss may cause dementia and believe that tackling this sensory impairment early may help to prevent the disease.
Scientists have developed a new theory as to how hearing loss may cause dementia and believe that tackling this sensory impairment early may help to prevent the disease.
Hearing loss has been shown to be linked to dementia in epidemiological studies and may be responsible for a tenth of the 47 million cases worldwide.
Now, published in the journal Neuron, a team at Newcastle University, UK, provide a new theory to explain how a disorder of the ear can lead to Alzheimer’s disease — a concept never looked at before.
It is hoped that this new understanding may be a significant step towards advancing research into Alzheimer’s disease and how to prevent the illness for future generations.
Newcastle experts considered three key aspects; a common underlying cause for hearing loss and dementia; lack of sound-related input leading to brain shrinking; and cognitive impairment resulting in people having to engage more brain resources to compensate for hearing loss, which then become unavailable for other tasks.
They consider explanations for how changes in brain activity due to hearing loss might directly promote the presence of abnormal proteins that cause Alzheimer’s disease, therefore triggering the disease.
Association Between Hearing Loss And Incident Dementia
Twelve prospective cohort studies were analyzed in the meta-analysis of hearing loss and risk of all-cause dementia. Since one study provided separate data according to the number of ears affected , two studies according to the severity of hearing loss , and the others according to the age of the participants , these datasets were independently examined. As a result, 17 datasets were available for the outcome of all-cause dementia . Pooled results showed that hearing loss elevated the risk of subsequent dementia . Sensitivity analysis also showed consistent results . Subgroup analysis by the diagnostic methods for hearing loss, validation strategy for dementia, follow-up duration, and adjustment of APOE genotype also showed consistent results . Pooled analyses with five studies showed that loss was independently associated with a higher incidence of AD .
Figure 2. Forest plots for the meta-analysis concerning the association between hearing loss and the subsequent incidence of all-cause dementia.
Figure 3. Subgroup analyses for the outcome of all-cause dementia. Subgroup analysis according to the diagnostic methods for hearing loss, and subgroup analysis according to the validation strategy for dementia.
Figure 4. Subgroup analyses for the outcome of all-cause dementia. Subgroup analysis according to the mean follow-up duration, and subgroup analysis according to whether the status of the apolipoprotein E genotype was adjusted.
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