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Alzheimer’s And Untreated Hearing Loss Link

Tryon Hearing Center is raising awareness of the association between hearing health and Alzheimer’s disease and is underscoring the importance of addressing hearing loss for the benefit of overall cognitive function.

According to a study published in the Archives of Neurology, older adults with hearing loss appear more likely to develop dementia, and their risk increases as hearing loss becomes more severe. The researchers found that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease specifically increased with hearing loss. For every 10 decibels of hearing loss, the extra risk of developing Alzheimer’s increased by 20 percent.

“There is strong evidence that hearing impairment contributes to the progression of cognitive dysfunction in older adults,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director. “Unmanaged hearing loss can interrupt the cognitive processing of spoken language and sound, exhaust cognitive reserve, and lead to social isolation—regardless of other coexisting conditions. But when an individual has both Alzheimer’s and hearing loss, many of the symptoms of hearing loss can interact with those common to Alzheimer’s, making the disease more difficult than it might be if the hearing loss had been addressed.”

Numerous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced alertness, increased risk to personal safety, irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, and diminished psychological and overall health.

According to a study at Brandeis University, older adults with mild to moderate hearing loss expended so much cognitive energy on trying to hear accurately that it diminished their ability to remember a short word list.  As a result, their cognitive function was poorer than those individuals of the same age that had good hearing.

Studies also have shown that although a significantly higher percentage of patients with Alzheimer’s disease may have hearing loss, they are much less likely to receive attention for their hearing needs than their normally aging peers.

Research has shown that the use of hearing aids, especially in combination with appropriate aural rehabilitation in a multidisciplinary setting, has helped to reduce Alzheimer’s patients’ symptoms of depression, passivity, negativism, disorientation, anxiety, social isolation, feelings of helplessness, loss of independence and general cognitive decline.

“A comprehensive hearing assessment should be part of any Alzheimer’s diagnosis and any hearing loss should be addressed,” says Kochkin. “Most hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids. By addressing hearing loss, we can help improve quality-of-life for people with Alzheimer’s so they can live as fully as possible. These individual’s—and their families and caregivers—face many challenges. Untreated hearing loss shouldn’t have to be one of them.”

About Alzheimer’s Disease
Source:  Alzheimer’s Disease International

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and accounts for 50 to 60 percent of all cases. Dementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes, which affect memory, thinking, behavior, and emotion.

Alzheimer’s disease destroys brain cells and nerves, disrupting the transmitters that carry messages in the brain, particularly those responsible for storing memories. Alzheimer’s disease was first described by Alois Alzheimer in 1906.

During the course of Alzheimer’s disease, nerve cells die in particular regions of the brain. The brain shrinks as gaps develop in the temporal lobe and hippocampus, which are responsible for storing and retrieving new information. This in turn affects people’s ability to remember, speak, think and make decisions. The production of certain chemicals in the brain, such as acetylcholine is also affected. It is not known what causes nerve cells to die but there are characteristic appearances of the brain after death. In particular, ‘tangles’ and ‘plaques’ made from protein fragments are observed under the microscope in damaged areas of brain. This confirms the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms

Typically, Alzheimer’s disease begins with lapses of memory, difficulty in finding the right words for everyday objects, or mood swings. As Alzheimer’s progresses, the person may:

  • Routinely forget recent events, names and faces, and have difficulty in understanding what is being said
  • Become confused when handling money or driving a car
  • Undergo personality changes, appearing to no longer care about those around them
  • Experience mood swings and burst into tears for no apparent reason, or become convinced that someone is trying to harm them

In advanced cases people may also:

  • Adopt unsettling behavior like getting up in the middle of the night or wander off and become lost
  • Lose their inhibitions and sense of suitable behavior

 

Contact us for a Free Hearing Test today!

 

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Help Your Heart, Get A Hearing Test.

New research in the February issue of Atherosclerosis suggests that hearing loss may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease in seemingly healthy middle-aged people. The study also showed that hearing loss is common in people in their forties. (http://ow.ly/HOOQwhttp://ow.ly/HRnt4)

Getting a Hearing Test Just May Help Your Heart

Washington, DC, February 4, 2015—Keeping track of your hearing by getting a hearing test may help you monitor your cardiovascular health, says the Tryon Hearing Center, which is raising awareness of the link between cardiovascular and hearing health.

To help people determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional, Tryon Hearing Center is offering a free, and confidential hearing check at our office.

New research out of the University of Wisconsin in Madison has reconfirmed the link between hearing and cardiovascular health, suggesting that hearing loss may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease in seemingly healthy middle-aged people. The study also showed that hearing loss is common in people in their forties. (http://ow.ly/HOOQwhttp://ow.ly/HRnt4)

This research is in line with the earlier findings of David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who explains the cardiovascular-hearing health link:

“The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.”

In Dr. Friedland’s own 2009 study, published in The Laryngoscope, he and fellow researchers found that audiogram pattern correlates strongly with cerebrovascular and peripheral arterial disease and may represent a screening test for those at risk. They even concluded that patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be regarded as at risk for cardiovascular events, and appropriate referrals should be considered. (http://ow.ly/HOWDY)

About this latest research out of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Dr. Friedland says, “This study provides a potential mechanism by which blood flow to the ear may be compromised, namely atherosclerosis and plaque formation. It also shows that hearing loss in middle age is more common than many people realize.”

Research not only shows that hearing loss is affiliated with cardiovascular disease, but it’s linked to other chronic illnesses as well, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, moderate chronic kidney disease, and depression. And when left untreated, hearing loss adversely affects quality of life, earnings, and physical and emotional well-being.

Luckily, the overwhelming majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, which have advanced dramatically in recent years and are designed to help people keep up with youthful, active lifestyles. When people with even mild hearing loss use today’s modern hearing aids, they often improve their job performance; enhance their communication skills; increase their earnings potential; improve their professional and interpersonal relationships; stave off depression; gain an enhanced sense of control over their lives; and better their quality of life.

Five Heart-Healthy Reasons to Get a Hearing Test

  1. Six decades of research points to heart-hearing health link. A comparative review of more than 60 years of research found a correlation between cardiovascular and hearing health. Specifically, the study authors concluded that the negative influence of impaired cardiovascular health on both the peripheral and central auditory system—and the potential positive influence of improved cardiovascular health on these same systems—have been found through a sizable body of research. (http://ow.ly/BqqPy)
  2. The ear may be a window to the heart. Some experts find the evidence showing a link between cardiovascular and hearing health so compelling that they say the ear may be a window to the heart. They encourage collaboration between hearing care providers, cardiologists, and other healthcare professionals. Some even call on hearing care professionals to include cardiovascular health in patient case history and to measure their patients’ blood pressure. (http://ow.ly/Bp7oVhttp://ow.ly/BqYsKhttp://ow.ly/BqZdt)
  3. The same lifestyle behaviors that affect the heart impact hearing. More evidence of the interconnectedness between cardiovascular and hearing health is found in three studies on modifiable behaviors: One found that a higher level of physical activity is associated with lower risk of hearing loss in women. Another revealed that smokers and passive smokers are more likely to suffer hearing loss. And a third found that regular fish consumption and higher intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are associated with lower risk of hearing loss in women. Coincidence? Or does it all come back to blood flow to the inner ear? Research is ongoing. (http://ow.ly/BqrlJhttp://ow.ly/Bqsz0http://ow.ly/BqtO3)
  4. Addressing hearing loss improves quality of life, helps reduce stress.  Eight out of 10 hearing aid users say they’re satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives due to their hearing aids. Many say they see improvements in their life overall, in interpersonal relationships, and that they experience reduced anger and frustration, and enhanced emotional stability. (http://ow.ly/AZ2D7)
  5. Today’s hearing aids are better than ever and virtually invisible. State-of-the-art, sleek, sophisticated, and low profile, today’s hearing aids combine high-performance technology and style with durability and ease-of-use. They’re a high-tech tool to help people maintain youthful lifestyles and stay socially, physically, and cognitively active. The options are so varied there’s an attractive solution for just about anyone.