Hearing loss and dementia – Is there a link?

30th August 2017

Recent research carried out at Exeter University suggests that those who experience hearing loss could face greater risk of issues with their memory and other issues surrounding the brain in later life.

The study focussed largely on those who were at risk of Alzheimer’s disease and revealed a link between people who has been diagnosed with hearing loss and those with a higher risk of mild cognitive impairment.

Professor of age-related disease at the University of Exeter, Clive Ballard states that those with hearing loss “are in the lowest 5% of cognitive performance and about 50% of those individuals will go on to develop dementia.”

In order to study the possible link between hearing loss and dementia, researchers from the United States assessed the thinking skills and memory of 783 healthy individuals between the ages of 40 and 50. More than 66% of the participants had a parent that had previously been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Thoughout the study, the researches carious out a number of cognitive tests, over the the period of 4 years, that produced findings on the memory and mental processing abilities of the individuals taking part. The cognitive tests revealed that those with hearing loss at the beginning of the study produced were twice as likely to be displaying mild cognitive impairment 4 years later than those who had no issues with hearing.

Whilst these findings appear concrete, it is not yet clear whether hearing loss is directly linked to dementia, or in fact that a loss of hearing is what contributes to a cognitive decline.

What are your thoughts?

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