Hearing Loss & Dementia

Dr Lin: Johns Hopkins School of MedicineDementia is a condition that affects millions of people every year. Those who live with this illness experience a decline in mental ability, which can include memory loss, personality changes and other issues. These changes affect people's lives, their families and the community. Recent studies have found that hearing aids could help reduce the risk of people developing this devastating condition.

Doctor Frank Lin, an otologist, led a research team at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine that investigated hearing loss and dementia. His team found evidence of a causal link between the two; people with hearing impairments were at a greater risk of developing dementia over time. The evidence suggests that using hearing aids could delay or prevent the onset of dementia.

While these theories have not been tested, the research team did speculate on why hearing loss could lead to dementia. They suggest that straining to hear sounds over a long period of time can place stress on the brain, making it more vulnerable. Another possibility is that hearing loss causes social isolation, which is known for creating a higher risk of cognitive disorders.

 

"..hearing aids... could delay or prevent dementia by improving patients' hearing"

 

Research methods used to find the link

Until recently, the effect of hearing impairment on brain function has been an understudied area. The Johns Hopkins team used the following methods to reach their conclusions.

First, they pulled data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging (BLSA). The BLSA has tracked the health records of thousands of volunteers since 1958. Doctor Lin’s team focused only on the 639 men and women whose hearing and cognitive functions were tested between 1990 and 1994. During this period, approximately a quarter of the participants had experienced some level of hearing loss, but none had developed dementia.

The researchers then studied these 639 individuals, examining them every one to two years. By 2008, 58 people within this group had been diagnosed with dementia. Those with hearing problems were significantly more likely to develop dementia. As the hearing loss became more severe, the likelihood of developing dementia increased.

Other variables that could have affected this likelihood, such as age, sex and other medical conditions, were taken into consideration. Even when accounting for these factors, there was a significant link between hearing ability and dementia. 

 

Free hearing appointment

Call 5443 6633 between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday to book your free, no obligation hearing appointment.  Find out how hearing aids can help you.  The free hearing appointment is valid for people aged 55 years or older.  We have clinics located throughout the Sunshine Coast at Maroochydore, Buddina, Caloundra, Cooroy, Noosa Heads and Nambour.  We also have a clinic at Gympie.

 


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