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Did you know that September is World Alzheimer’s Month? A great way you can participate is by scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. Protecting your hearing health is an effective way to support your brain health which reduces the risk of cognitive decline.
About Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease
Dementia includes numerous medical conditions that are characterized by cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates that there are 55 million people living with dementia globally. This is expected to significantly increase, reaching 139 million people by 2050. Dementia includes Lewy Body, Parkinson’s, and vascular dementia but the most common type is Alzheimer’s which accounts for up to 70% of the dementia people experience today.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 6 million people have Alzheimer’s in the U.S. This is projected to more than double, reaching 12.7 million people by 2050. Alzheimer’s damages nerve cells in the brain which takes a toll on cognitive functions – memory, thinking, learning, communication etc. This progressive condition often includes memory loss, an inability to complete everyday tasks, communication challenges, behavioral changes and more.
There are no cures for dementia which highlights the importance of prevention. Substantial research focuses on identifying risk factors that can change the trajectory of brain health. Research shows that treating hearing loss can help protect brain health and prevent cognitive decline.
Link Between Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline
Hearing is a process that not only happens in the ears but also the brain. Significant research shows that imparied hearing can also impact the brain in ways that contribute to cognitive decline. A major study that explores this link was published in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School facilitated a study that included 10,107 people, ages 62 and older. Cognitive and hearing capacities were evaluated for 8 years and researchers found that people with hearing loss were much more likely to experience cognitive decline.
Compared to participants without hearing loss, cognitive decline among those with impaired hearing was:
- 30% higher among people with mild hearing loss
- 42% higher among people with moderate hearing loss
- 54% higher among people with severe hearing loss
This data shows that people with hearing loss were significantly more likely to also experience cognitive decline. Like further studies highlight, this study also shows that hearing loss is a risk factor for cognitive decline.
Recognizing Hearing Loss Symptoms
Over 48 million people, nearly 1 in 6, have some degree of hearing loss. Though hearing loss is an incredibly common health issue today, it still remains widely undertreated. In fact, only one third of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it. Recognizing the symptoms of hearing loss can help you identify changes you experience to your hearing health. Common symptoms include:
- Tinnitus: a buzzing or ringing noise in one or both ears.
- Sounds are distorted or muffled.
- Difficulty hearing in environments with background noise.
- Asking others to repeat something they’ve said or to speak louder.
- Lip reading to identify individual words.
- Increasing the volume on the TV, phone, or other electronic devices.
- Pretending to hear, experinging miscommunication, struggling to keep up with conversations.
- Needing to move to a quieter space to hear better.
- Feeling fatigued after conversations and social interactions.
These symptoms can range from being mild to severe, depending on the degree of hearing loss present. Not only does this strain communication but it also often leads to social withdrawal. It is important to address symptoms right away by having your hearing assessed.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
Fortunately, there are effective ways that hearing loss is treated. A common treatment option is hearing aids which are electronic devices that help absorb and process sound. Hearing aids are equipped with innovative technology and features that easily integrate into everyday life, supporting hearing in all settings. This alleviates symptoms, increases hearing capacity, and allows people to navigate communication much more easily. Hearing aids offer countless benefits including strengthening communication as well as improving brain health. Studies show that hearing aids strengthen cognitive functions, boosting brain health and reducing the risk of cognitive decline.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. World Alzheimer’s Month is a great reminder to prioritize your hearing health and wellness!