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Dementia And Alzheimer's Disease In Elderly - Could Hearing Loss A Reason?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Ajay Doiphode 85% (10 ratings)
MS - Otorhinolaryngology, Diploma in Otorhinolaryngology (DLO)
ENT Specialist, Mumbai  •  20 years experience
Dementia And Alzheimer's Disease In Elderly - Could Hearing Loss A Reason?

Aging comes with many health problems including mild hearing loss. Usually, this mild hearing loss does not come alone. According to medical studies, adults, particularly males with hearing loss, mild or severe, are at a higher risk of developing Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The risk increases as the hearing loss worsen. People with mild hearing loss are at twice the risk of developing dementia compared to people with normal hearing.

Dementia is a group of symptoms and diseases that affects the thinking, memory and social abilities that interfere with the daily functioning of an individual. However, memory loss alone does not mean that one has Dementia. Out of the many causes, Alzheimer’s disease is usually the cause of Dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that affects the brain cells to degenerate and dies, destroying memory and other mental functions. 

How Hearing Loss Causes Alzheimer’s?

According to medical studies, hearing loss causes several brain changes which increase the risk of developing Dementia. Hearing loss can lead to brain shrinkage, the process in which the section of the brain responsible for hearing becomes inactive. This condition leads to loss of tissues and alterations in the brain structure, developing as the first connection between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s. Studies show that the brain of people shrinks more quickly who have hearing loss as compared to the brain of an individual with normal hearing. 

The second link created with an overwhelmed or overloaded brain. In hearing loss, the brain works overtime in understanding what others are saying. When the brain strains too much only for hearing every time and every day, it exhausts an individual’s mental energy and snatches the brainpower required for other important mental functions, such as thinking, remembering and acting. This can further lead to Dementia, Alzheimer’s and other mental disorders

Hearing Aids to prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s

According to various studies, hearing aids are not only helpful in improving one’s hearing but they can also preserve an individual’s mental and emotional health. Early diagnosis and treatment of a possible hearing loss help reduce risks later in life.

At times, the symptoms of undiagnosed hearing loss are mistaken with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Hearing impairment makes it challenging for an individual to listen and respond to verbal signs. It increases the feeling of confusion, paranoia, and isolation. 

Hearing aids can relieve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. According to a study hearing aids slow down the rate of memory loss and improve an individual’s quality of life.

Takeaway

Adults, especially males with hearing loss have a greater tendency of developing Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Hearing loss causes brain to overwork leading to the loss of important mental functions. Hearing impairment can worsen the symptoms of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

Hearing aids do help in improving the condition and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and improve one’s quality of life. A timely diagnosis can make a big difference.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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