The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia
Dementia is usually misunderstood. People often refer to it as a disease or condition, but it’s actually a collective term that describes several different symptoms that are associated with a decline in your memory or cognitive ability. It’s usually used when those symptoms are strong enough to reduce your ability to perform everyday activities.
Some common symptoms of dementia include memory loss, impaired communication and language, inability to reason, lack of focus or even a lapse in visual perception. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease with Vascular dementia as the second. There are many other conditions that could cause symptoms of dementia, and hearing loss is one of the latest to be discovered to have links with dementia.
How was the link between hearing loss and dementia discovered?
At World Hearing Day 2018 during March, the British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) highlighted an important study that confirms the link between hearing loss and the risk of dementia in older adults. It was conducted by Professor Helene Amieva in France and the study followed 3,777 participants aged over 65 for up to 25 years. 1,289 of the participants reported hearing problems and 2,290 reported no issues.
The study found that there was an increased risk of disability and dementia in those that suffered from hearing loss. In men, there was even an increased risk of depression associated with hearing loss. What’s curious is that these associations were actually not found in those participants that used hearing aids, something that hearing health professionals can easily provide to their patients.
What was the conclusion of the study?
The study concluded that those who were over 65 and suffered hearing loss were at higher risk of developing dementia. There was no conclusive evidence that using hearing aids could reduce this risk (because this was not the purpose of the study) but the results seem to point to this as a conclusion and it’s currently the next highest priority that the researchers are following.
Dementia has been the target of intensive research for many years, so any link that helps researchers lower the risk of dementia in patients is always met with welcome arms.
The link between hearing aids and a reduced risk of dementia
Although it was not the purpose of the study, it seems that hearing aids could be the key to preventing a patient from developing dementia after experiencing hearing loss. As the study showed, those that used hearing aids were seemingly immune to the link that the data proved. This could mean that hearing aids are an effective defense against developing dementia as a result of hearing loss.
Hearing care providers are well-equipped and knowledgeable in the field of hearing-related conditions, hence why it’s important to speak to a professional if you’re concerned about the risk of developing dementia. Hearing health professionals can diagnose your hearing loss at an early stage and help you find the right solution to help you keep your hearing ability.