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Studies link hearing loss to the development of Alzheimer's disease and Dementia

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Research shows that hearing evaluations are first line of defense.

CHICAGO, January, 2012 – A study published in the Archives of Neurology* found that older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and dementia than those with normal hearing. The study also concluded that hearing loss can intensify the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and dementia once they are already present.

Numerous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of conditions including impaired memory, the inability to learn new tasks, reduced alertness, and increased risk to personal safety. Further, hearing loss is associated with irritability, anger, fatigue, tension, and depression. Because these symptoms are similar to those present with Alzheimer's disease, a hearing screening is essential to determine the root cause.

By treating hearing loss, hearing aids help reduce multiple Alzheimer's symptoms

In response to these findings, further studies found that interventions such as hearing aids can delay, or even prevent, dementia and Alzheimer's by improving patients' hearing. Further, treating hearing loss with hearing aids can help reduce multiple Alzheimer's symptoms. Treating hearing loss allows the brain continued stimulation, which helps keep it active — enabling people to stay alert.

“Most hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids,” said Sergei Kochkin, Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute. “By addressing hearing loss, we can help improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer's so they can live as fully as possible. These individuals, as well as their families and caregivers, face many challenges. Untreated hearing loss shouldn't have to be one of them.”

Although the reason for the link between hearing loss and Alzheimer's disease is unknown, investigators suggest that the strain of decoding sounds over the years may overwhelm the brains of people with hearing loss, leaving them more vulnerable to dementia. They also speculate that hearing loss could lead to dementia by making individuals more socially isolated, a known risk factor for dementia and other cognitive disorders.

“Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia.” Archives of Neurology Feb. 2011: 214-220.

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