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Can hearing loss cause dementia?

Experts agree that Hearing loss and dementia often occur

together as we get older and have an impact on each other. We know they are linked in several ways but what does that mean for the average person with an age-related hearing loss?

According to a recent study carried out by the John Hopkin University of public health (USA) hearing loss could be responsible for 8% of dementia cases and a partial

factor in many more cases. In a further study that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years, Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.D., Ph. D., and his colleagues found that.......

  • Mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk.

  • Moderate loss tripled risk

  • People with a severe hearing impairment were 5 times more likely to develop dementia

Keep these figures in mind when thinking about the fact that out of the 12 million adults in the UK that suffer from a moderate or severe hearing loss, 3.1 million are untreated either by choice or from lack of access to suitable hearing care.

During my reading on this topic I’ve come across similar findings time and time again and although researchers still can’t quite agree on the exact link it seems undeniable that untreated hearing loss leaves you more vulnerable to dementia.

Hearing loss can make the brain work harder, forcing it to focus to fill in the gaps, this causes fatigue and it may be that this comes at the expense of other memory systems. Another theory and one I personally see a lot of in clinic is hearing loss leading to social isolation. Once hearing loss reaches the point where a patient can no longer hear well enough to participate in group conversation I often find they stop trying to join in at family meals and out of embarrassment no longer ask the speaker to repeat themselves if they haven’t heard.

There are many facts that could potentially put you at risk from this frightening disease but untreated hearing loss doesn't have to be one of them, you can ask your GP for a hearing assessment referral via the NHS. This service is not means tested and is purely based on clinical requirements with no charge associated. You can also book an assessment via a private clinic.

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