Dementia Linked To Hearing Loss, But There Is Hope
Losing the ability to hear is seen by many as an inconvenience, but science is beginning to show that hearing loss can profoundly affect health. Studies have found evidence that hearing loss can lead to the onset of dementia and worsen existing symptoms. The research is unsettling, but not damning. Despite the bleak news, it is not without hope. Increased understanding of the links between hearing loss and dementia can lead to solutions.
How Strong Is the Link Between the Two?
It is important to note the difference between a link and a cause. Simply because someone suffers from hearing loss does not mean they will develop dementia. However, the study shows that seniors who have hearing loss are three times as likely to develop dementia eventually. Other studies add more credence to the dementia and hearing loss correlation. One found that living with noise pollution puts patients at a higher risk for dementia. The farther away from traffic-heavy roads patients were, the less their risk.
How Does Hearing Loss Cause Dementia?
The possible causes of dementia are still not concretely defined, but researchers have discovered many possible contributing factors. Researchers believe that the slow loss of hearing puts extra strain on the brain as it attempts to process unclear sounds. An overstressed brain is a weak brain, which is more susceptible to degeneration. Some scientists have also suggested other, less direct possible causes. There is a clear link between isolation and lack of socialization and the onset of dementia. Hearing loss commonly causes its victims to become more withdrawn, a known dementia risk factor.
Can A Hearing Aid Help?
Now that they have found the correlations, scientists are preparing for more studies to determine if a hearing aid can directly combat the onset of dementia or lessen the symptoms associated with it. As of yet, no one can definitively say that a hearing aid can help, but researchers are optimistic about what they will find. The leader of the study that found the correlation between hearing loss and dementia said: “Treating hearing loss could potentially help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia…” Also, the increased risk of dementia due to social isolation is real, and a hearing aid will most definitely help with that.