Hearing Loss and Dementia

Hearing Loss and Dementia

You might associate hearing loss with getting older, and this condition does often happen to people once they reach a certain age. But more importantly, experts have found a link between hearing loss and dementia in the elderly across the US, including those who live in Hawaii.

According to recent research, scientists have found that hearing loss and changes in the brain are directly correlated.

Hearing and the Brain

In the past, scientists have linked falls, hospitalization, and diminished mental and physical health to hearing loss. Now, new research shows that memory loss and dementia are also common effects of hearing loss that residents throughout the nation experience.

An otologist at Johns Hopkins University, named Frank Lin, has conducted several recent studies that prove this correlation. Lin’s 2013 study showed that cognitive abilities (such as memory, planning, and concentration) noticeably diminished in those suffering from advanced hearing loss. The research showed that hearing loss increases the rate of age-related cognitive decline.

By the time an average American reaches the age of 70, they’ve experienced some level of hearing loss. That statistic is more astounding when you consider that the same number of people might also struggle with major cognitive decline.

Types and Causes of Hearing Loss

Although many assume that only elderly people experience hearing loss, this thought isn’t true. Any person at any age may develop hearing loss and dementia for one reason or another.

Experts separate hearing loss into three basic categories:

  • Conductive hearing loss develops due to issues in the outer or middle ear. Malformation, fluids, earwax, infection, or other blockage can all contribute.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) comes from all nerve-related inner ear problems. Common causes include exposure, trauma, virus or disease, genetics, and aging.
  • Mixed hearing loss makes up a mixture of the above listed types and usually requires more complex treatment as a result.

In general, conductive hearing loss proves easier to treat, as removal of a blockage or benign tumor often solves any issues. You’ll notice that aging is included as a cause of SNHL, a condition which hearing specialists refer to as “presbycusis,” or age-related hearing loss.

No matter the type or cause, it’s important to realize that hearing loss negatively affects the brain and its function. To help you or a loved one avoid further hearing loss, call Pacific Hearing Care in Hawaii at (808) 955-7366 to schedule an appointment today or make an appointment online by clicking here.

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