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Hearing loss and dementia

People with hearing loss are up to five times more likely to develop dementia, a study finds.

Hearing loss and dementia

Compared with individuals with normal hearing, people with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia.

People with mild, moderate and severe hearing loss are 2, 3 and 5 times more likely to develop dementia respectively than people with normal hearing.

Even after taking into account other factors that are associated with high risk of dementia, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, age, sex and race, hearing loss and dementia are still strongly associated. 

The findings are found in a study published in 2011 made by Frank Lin, otolaryngologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the US. He and his team followed 639 patients for 18 years. None of the subjects had cognitive impairments at the beginning of the study, although some did have a certain degree of hearing loss. During the 18 years of follow up, 58 cases of dementia were diagnosed amongst the 639 patients.

Increased risk with increased hearing loss

Another study, published in 2012 by Gallacher et al, has confirmed these findings. In this study, 1057 men were followed for a period of 17 years. Their hearing loss was evaluated at the start of the study and then again after 9 years, in which both cognition and dementia were assessed. The authors found a strong relationship between hearing loss and both dementia and cognitive decline. For every 10 dB (A) of increasing hearing loss, compared to normal hearing level for that age, the risk of developing dementia increased 2.7 fold.

Source: ”Hearing well to train your brain” by Prof. Frank R. Lin and Prof. Sophia E. Krame

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