Did you know 48 million people in this country currently suffer from hearing loss? Hearing loss associated with aging can begin as early as age 30. One-third of those of us over 60 have hearing loss. One half of those over 85 have hearing loss. It is important to be proactive if you suspect you have hearing loss. Early detection can get you help as well as aid in the prevention of the onset of additional age-related illnesses.
Studies by Dr. Frank Lin and others are suggesting there is a correlation between hearing loss and dementia. Dr. Lin is an epidemiologist and otolaryngologist at the John Hopkins School of Medicine. He published his findings in The Archives of Neurology in 2011 that linked the two. The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging measured the hearing of 639 subjects, who started out with healthy hearing, over the course of 18 years.
What he found was for those who had developed hearing loss, the greater the damage, the higher the risk of dementia. Dr. Lin concluded: “Compared to individuals with normal hearing, those individuals with a mild, moderate and severe hearing loss, respectively, had a 2-, 3- and 5-fold increased risk of developing dementia over the course of the study.
The findings remained true even with common precursors like high blood pressure and diabetes ruled out.
If you are concerned about dementia overtaking you, here are some common signs and symptoms to watch out for:
Memory loss. Probably the most common symptom is memory loss. From a young age we’ve all no doubt misplaced our car keys or searched high and low for our eyeglasses only to find them atop our heads. This is common and not something to be alarmed about. If you’ve lost something major, like for instance, yourself, you “come to” in the middle of an intersection during rush hour, alarms should go off now.
Expressive Aphasia. Words that normally came so easy to you are difficult to retrieve, even after much struggle.
Depression. We all experience highs and lows. But when your normal activities and hobbies bring you no pleasure, it may be time to see the doctor. The good news is there are plenty of mood stabilizers and other types of anti-depressants available to help you find joy in ordinary activities again.
Forty-eight million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss. If it can be proved in a clinical trial that hearing aids help delay or offset dementia, the benefits would be immeasurable.
“Could we do something to reduce cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia?” he asked. “It’s hugely important, because by 2050, 1 in 30 Americans will have dementia