THURSDAY, Dec. 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) – Age can often lead to hearing loss and, for some, mental decline in the form of dementia. But are the two linked?
Recent research suggests that hearing loss increases the chances of developing dementia, but the jury is still deliberating whether one condition actually causes the other, experts say.
According to a team of Irish researchers at Trinity College in Dublin, approximately one third of adults over 65 experience age-related hearing loss. And previous research suggests that hearing loss often, but not always, precedes the onset of dementia by 5 to 10 years.
In the new study, a team led by Trinity David Loughrey reviewed data from 36 studies that included more than 20,000 people worldwide. The researchers found a small badociation between hearing loss related to age and an increased risk of mental deterioration, mental deterioration and dementia.
"The badociations, although small, were comparable in size and importance to other risk factors most commonly investigated" for dementia, the study authors wrote. For example, when badyzing only the best-performing prospective studies, age-related hearing loss was badociated with a 22 percent greater chance of cognitive (mental) impairment and a 28 percent greater risk of any type of dementia.
However, when looking at Alzheimer's disease in particular, Loughrey's group saw no badociation between hearing loss and brain disorder.
The researchers stressed that they could not demonstrate any cause and effect relationship. But if the hearing loss is linked to dementia, that does not mean that older adults are unable to prevent any of the conditions, a geriatrician said.
"It seems that hearing loss is a modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline as we get older -" This is good news for older adults because hearing loss can be easily diagnosed and treated successfully when hearing aids are used appropriate, "said Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein, directs geriatric education at Northwell Health in Great Neck, NY
Dr. Ian Storper directs otology at the Center for auditory and balance disorders at the Head and Neck Institute of New York, part of the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, in reviewing the findings, emphasized that the study could not prove that hearing loss helps cause dementia, making seniors who are struggling auditory should not panic.
In addition, the study "does not suggest that hearing loss is the only risk factor" for dementia, "Storper said. And he agreed with Wolf-Klein that if hearing loss is a risk factor for cognitive impairment, "it could be a preventable risk factor if hearing aids are used, if possible, which will also help to listen better."
The findings were published on December 7 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery .
The US National Library of Medicine. UU has more information about hearing loss related to age.
SOURCES: Gisele Wolf-Klein, MD, director of geriatric education, Northwell Health, Great Neck, NY; Ian Storper, M.D., director of otology, Center for Hearing and Balance Disorders, New York Head and Neck Institute, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery press release, December 7, 2017
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