Millions of people deal with Alzheimer's and hearing loss. Several studies have confirmed the link between hearing loss and Alzheimer's. The risk of developing Alzheimer's increases as hearing loss grows worse. Researchers compared people with hearing loss to people who do not have hearing loss. When compared to people with normal hearing, people with mild hearing loss are almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's. People who have a severe hearing impairment have a higher risk of developing the disease. Specifically, hearing loss is common in people who have a hearing impairment that is greater than 25 decibels. Senior citizens are most likely to be at risk for hearing loss and Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's and Hearing Loss
The connection between hearing loss and Alzheimer's is not conclusive. Researchers suggest that the two disorders might share a common pathology. Some researchers believe that the brain becomes overwhelmed with information over a long period of time. The strain of decoding information might cause hearing loss. When people lose their hearing, they may be more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. Researchers also speculate that hearing loss could lead to social isolation. Social isolation is a risk factor for Alzheimer's.
Detecting Hearing Loss
Several studies have proven that hearing loss worsens the symptoms of Alzheimer's when the disease is already present. Common symptoms are impaired memory, reduced alertness and irritability. A doctor can help you detect early hearing loss. The problem could be caused by a serious medical condition or excess wax in the ear canal. A hearing impairment can also be caused by fluid in the middle ear.
If your ENT doctor diagnoses you with a hearing impairment, he may prescribe a full hearing test. The test will determine your current level of hearing loss. Your doctor can recommend medical treatments.