If there was something you could do to help keep your brain sharp throughout your life, you would do it, right? What if we were to tell you that something as easy as getting proper treatment for hearing loss could help stave off dementia?
In the past few years, research has shown a link between hearing loss and dementia. One of those studying this link is Frank Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University. In one study he found that adults with hearing loss are up to 24% more likely to see cognitive decline than those with normal hearing. In a separate study he found that hearing loss seems to speed up age-related dementia, finding people with moderate hearing loss had triple the risk as those with normal hearing.
Some theories on the cause of the link include:
· Hearing loss and dementia could be caused by or share similar physiological diseases, such as high blood pressure.
· Hearing loss affects the brain structure, as people with hearing loss have less brain tissue than those with normal hearing, specifically in regions responsible for processing sound and speech.
· Hearing loss often leads to social isolation, and studies have shown that social isolation can lead to cognitive decline.
It is important to point out that hearing loss has not yet been proven to be a cause of dementia. There are people who have dementia who have no hearing loss, and people with hearing loss who show no signs of cognitive decline. But there are studies that show treating hearing loss can help improve cognitive scores of those with significant hearing loss.
The takeaway is this: It is important to have your hearing assessed by a professional audiologist. Some of the symptoms of hearing loss and dementia are similar, including confusion in conversation, difficulty completing everyday tasks, and fatigue, which means hearing loss is often undiagnosed.
A professional audiologist can assess the degree of hearing loss and provide treatment. Hearing aid use is the one controllable and effective action a person can take to help reduce cognitive decline. To schedule your hearing assessment, call Piedmont Ear, Nose and Throat Associates at (336) 768-3361 to schedule an appointment, or visit one of our four convenient locations.