Many recent global and international research studies have established a definitive link between hearing loss and dementia and these have been widely reported in both the medical and the national press and media. Essentially they all say very much the same thing. That hearing loss is now one of the biggest risk factors for our ageing population in developing dementia, with mild hearing loss thought to double the risk of developing the disease and this level increasing the more severe hearing loss is.
Hearing loss and dementia have several things in common. They are both more common with age and both are related to cognitive decline, with several studies finding that the rate of cognitive decline is accelerated in dementia patients who suffer with hearing loss. The symptoms of these two conditions are often similar too, for example not responding when a question is asked, and this can sometimes result in misdiagnosis. Hearing loss and dementia are also linked as hearing loss often leads to social isolation, a known cause of dementia. There are also strong links between hearing loss and other major conditions including depression.
However, it’s not all negative news. Scientific studies have shown that, while more research is need, the use of hearing aids can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and therefore the potential of developing dementia. A large French scientific study, which followed over 3,500 people over a 25-years period, found that elderly people who say that they have a hearing loss and do not use hearing aids are at a much higher risk of developing dementia. It also found that for those people using hearing aids, there was no higher risk compared to people reporting no hearing loss and that the risk of cognitive decline was almost eliminated for those people wearing hearing aids. Other studies have also shown that treating hearing loss with hearing aids may improve cognitive decline.
If you think you may be suffering with hearing loss, Dr Carling will provide a detailed hearing assessment to establish any loss and can formulate a long-term treatment programme to help you reduce its severity. Please call us on 07950 816321 / 07973 187744 to book your appointment.