Friday, June 22, 2018

4 Things to Know About Hearing Loss & Dementia


Did you know that of the 9 lifestyle factors that could help prevent dementia, managing hearing loss during midlife is one of them? That's right! According to The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, dementia cases worldwide are expected to triple from 50 million to 150 million by the year 2050. The commission provided recommendations for prevention and management of dementia and concluded that 1 in 3 cases of dementia could be prevented if individuals managed 9 lifestyle factors. Managing hearing (including the use of properly fit hearing aids) at any age is important, but they specifically noted that managing hearing during midlife, between age 40-65, is of great importance. 

Our knowledge of a connection between hearing loss and dementia has continued to increase seven years after an original study was published in 2011 by John Hopkins University, which indicated the probability of developing dementia increases as hearing declines. 

Here are some things we know now: 
  1. Mild hearing loss in those over 65 years old doubled the risk of dementia, while those diagnosed with severe hearing loss were five times as likely to develop the disease.
  2. The correlation between hearing loss and dementia could be due to changes in brain function caused by decreased stimulation of the auditory system or could also be due to the fact that hearing loss leads to social isolation, which has been linked to dementia.
  3. Further research is being conducted to determine if treating hearing loss earlier will decrease the chance of developing dementia or other cognitive decline. We do know that treating hearing loss can help with social isolation and depression, two other risk factors for developing dementia.
  4. survey by the Better Hearing Institute found that 90% of people receiving hearing aids reported a significant improvement in their quality of life.

Dr. Frank Lin, a neurotologist at John Hopkins University and lead researcher on the study of hearing loss and dementia connection said, “…the brain may have to reallocate resources to help with hearing at the expense of cognition.” Dr. Lin’s study followed 600 individuals who did not have any previous dementia diagnosis over the course of 12 years. During the course of the study, 9% of the study participants developed dementia. Those individuals who had hearing loss had a significantly increased chance of developing dementia compared to those who had normal hearing. As the degree of hearing loss increased, so did the overall risk of dementia.

Hearing loss can be managed with the help of a trained audiologist. If you or a loved one are experiencing difficulty hearing or have been previously diagnosed with hearing loss, this research is a great reason to visit our clinic for a hearing evaluation. Advanced Audiology of Greater Omaha specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, hearing aid fitting, as well as tinnitus and sound sensitivity management.

Call (402)758-5327 to schedule a consultation today!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Diabetes and Hearing Loss

While a specific cause between diabetes and hearing loss is still unclear, there is enough evidence to encourage all diabetic patients to have their hearing tested and monitored regularly.

Statistics show that more than 30 million people in the US have diabetes, making it one of the top ten most prevalent health conditions today.  Hearing loss, another common health condition, is estimated to affect 35-45 million people in the US. These two disorders represent a large percentage of our population and research has shown that there is considerable connection between them. 

Studies show that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes. Those who have prediabetes, estimated to be as many as 84 million people, are 30 percent more likely to develop hearing loss, compared to people who have normal blood glucose readings.

Some studies suggest that damage to blood vessels due to high blood glucose levels is one possibility for the higher incidence. High blood glucose levels are known to cause diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness, due to damage of small blood vessels in the eye. The cochlea, which is the organ of hearing in the inner ear, also has several tiny blood vessels that are critical to normal function. Other studies show that the problem could be damage to the auditory nerve, which is responsible for delivering sound signals to the brain for processing. 

Age does not seem to play a role in increased chance of hearing loss in diabetics. An analysis of 13 past studies of diabetes in relation to hearing found diabetics under the age of 60 were even more likely to develop hearing loss, at 2.61 times their normal hearing peers.

Hearing loss is also connected to social isolation, depression and a higher incidence of dementia. Studies on individuals who were tested and properly fit with hearing aid technology were less likely to have depression and showed significant improvements in cognition.

With the increased chance of diabetes creating a permanent hearing problem it is important for those with the disease to be tested regularly and earlier than most to catch and address any hearing loss as quickly as possible. 

Contact us to schedule your hearing evaluation today!

4 Things to Know About Hearing Loss & Dementia

Did you know that of the 9 lifestyle factors that could help prevent dementia, managing hearing loss during midlife is one of them? That&#...