Hearing loss has been identified in every 2 to 3 children out of every 1000, born every year in the United States. (National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 2015) Over time, studies have also come to light which have linked dementia to the hearing loss disabilities in different individuals. Given the rising trend of hearing loss in the world, it is a cause of major concern.
Hearing Loss And Dementia – Different Medical Conditions But Connected?
Dementia is a medical condition which is related to the decline in the overall mental ability of an individual. Memory loss which affects the daily life rituals is also a condition known as dementia. (Alzheimer’s Association ) It is a condition which has a wide range of symptoms, which include:
· Loss of ability to focus and pay attention to the task at hand
· Impairment in visual perception
· Communication impairment and hindrance in language
· Impaired reasoning and judgment
· Short term memory loss
While dementia might be caused due to a number of reasons, a study shows that around 30% of adults aged more than 60 years of age, are at a risk of suffering from this disease. (Lin, Metter, O’Brien, Resnick, Zonderman, & Ferrucci, 2012) And along with a number of causes, hearing loss is being attributed as a possible cause for dementia in people too.
A recent fact details that hearing loss, which has affected more than 40 million people of the American population, is linked to an increase in the risk probability of dementia and other cognitive problems as well. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, the number of reported hearing loss cases, are on the rise, and it is estimated that around two thirds of the individuals who reach their 70s suffer from hearing loss. (Griffin, 2015)
While previously it was considered that hearing loss is an inconsequential part of the aging process, recent studies have prompted experts to think otherwise. An otologist and epidemiologist from John Hopkins University stated that the recent studies have started depicting a link between dementia, brain activity and hearing loss. (Griffin, 2015)
If the study results prove to be true, then there is a chance to avoid dementia, by treating hearing loss aggressively.
Study Linking Dementia To Hearing Loss
Study investigations suggest that while dementia and hearing loss are unconnected medical conditions, common pathology or the continuous strain of decoding innumerable sounds over the years, might result in the condition where the minds of the individuals who suffer from hearing loss are overwhelmed. This in turn, suggests a high likelihood of linking hearing loss to dementia. (John Hopkins Institute, 2011)
As hearing loss leaves individuals socially isolated, it is also being considered as a major reason for dementia. Taking all these factors into consideration, scientists have proposed a theory to try and use hearing aids as interventions, to treat the severity of hearing loss symptoms in individuals. By doing this, they aim to study the chances of reduced dementia symptoms in people, who are at a high risk of suffering from the medical condition. (John Hopkins Institute, 2011)
Research is underway to further explore this strong connection between the two conditions, and scientists are trying to find ways to treat one condition to avoid the other.
This article is written by: Dr. Lori Trentacoste, head audiologist at Island Better Hearing (www.islandbetterhearing.com) All images and content in this article are the sole property of the LIAHP and Dr. Trentacoste (c) 2015, All rights reserved. Use of this article or any content references from this article and/or other written products in this blogsite must be done with express permission from Dr. Lori Trentacoste.
Alzheimer’s Association . (n.d.). What is Dementia. Retrieved from Alzheimer’s Association : http://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp
Griffin, K. (2015, April). Hearing Loss linked to Dementia. Retrieved April 27th, 2015, from AARP: http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-07-2013/hearing-loss-linked-to-dementia.html
John Hopkins Institute. (2011). Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked in Study. John Hopkins Institute. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_and_dementia_linked_in_study
Lin, F. R., Metter, E. J., O’Brien, R. J., Resnick, S. M., Zonderman, A. B., & Ferrucci, L. (2012). Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia. NCBI . http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277836/
National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). (2015, April 20th). Quick Statistics. Retrieved April 27th, 2015, from National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD): http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/pages/quick.aspx