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6/25/2019

Are Hearing Loss & Alzheimers Linked?

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, so we’re taking a closer look at matters of the brain and how it relates to your hearing. 

The Alzheimer’s Association defines Alzheimer’s as “type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.”

“But what does this have to do with your hearing?”

A number of studies have investigated the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. In fact, the Hearing Loss Association of America stated that ‘hearing loss may increase the risk of cognitive problems and even dementia.’ With this in mind, we’re asking “are hearing loss and alzheimer’s linked?”

Alzheimer’s & Dementia

The Alzheimer’s Association states: “Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases.”

Alzheimer’s is not considered a normal part of aging, although age is the greatest known risk factor. The majority of people with Alzheimer’s are over 65, but estimates show that roughly 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have what is referred to as younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease (also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s).

It is a disease that worsens over time, and there is currently no cure. Treatment for the symptoms are available, and the research for a cure is ongoing.

The Link Between Hearing Loss & Alzheimer’s

In 2011, a John Hopkins study looked at 639 mentally sharp individuals, and monitored their cognitive health for between 12 and 18 years. The study found that the severity of a hearing loss increased the risk of developing dementia by:

  • X 2 for those with mild hearing loss.
  • X 3 for those with moderate hearing loss
  • X 5 for those with severe hearing loss

But why the connection? You may not realize how much a hearing loss can impact your brain: 

  • Increased social isolation is a side effect of untreated hearing loss. This lack of social engagement can also affect your brain due to the reduced quality and amount of stimulation it receives. This can actually cause changes to the structure of your brain.
  • A study of MRI scans has shown that brain volume can decline faster in individuals with hearing loss. The study identified a significant correlation between cognitive impairment and hearing loss. It suggested that cells in the under-used areas of the brain shrink, potentially causing cognitive decline or dementia.
  • Straining to hear can put repeated, sometimes intense, stress on your brain. Over a prolonged period of time, the ongoing stress can be mentally fatiguing and drain the brain’s energy reserves.

Staying on top of your hearing health can help protect your brain. We recommend annual hearing assessments to identify any changes to your baseline hearing as soon as possible. If you’re not sure if you need a hearing assessment, get started with our Online Hearing Quiz. When you’re ready to book, give the hearing care professionals at Audiology Associates of Greeley a call on 970-352-288. Alternatively, click here to request an appointment online.

We are hearing experts.

Audiology Associates has provided hearing care since 1972. We offer general audiology services for all ages, with an emphasis in amplification and operative monitoring. Our practice is the oldest and most trusted audiology and hearing aid practice in Colorado.

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The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness to determine if the client(s) may benefit from using hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Test conclusion may not be a medical diagnosis. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Testing is to evaluate your hearing wellness, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals. One offer per customer. Insurance benefit, including Managed Care or federal reimbursements, cannot be combined with any of our promotional offers, coupons or discounts. Other terms may apply. See office for details.