What is The Link Between Mental Acuity And Hearing Loss?

Woman having difficulty concentrating because of hearing loss.

“Mental acuity” is a term that gets frequently tossed around in regards to aging. Most health care or psychology specialists call it sharpness of the mind in layman’s terms, But the measurement of mental acuity takes into consideration several factors. A person’s mental acuity is affected by numerous factors such as memory, concentration, and the ability to understand and comprehend.

Besides mind altering disorders like dementia, loss of hearing has also been verified as a contributing component in mental decline.

Between Dementia And Your Hearing What is The Connection?

In fact, Johns Hopkins University conducted one study that found a connection between dementia, a reduction in cognitive ability, and hearing loss. Through a study of 2,000 people age 75-84 over a six-year span, researchers concluded that participants who suffered from hearing loss had a 30 to 40 percent faster decline in cognitive function than those who had normal hearing.

In the study which researchers observed a reduction in cognitive ability, memory and concentration were two of the aspects outlined. One Johns Hopkins professor advised against downplaying the significance of hearing loss just because it’s regarded as a typical part of aging.

Problems Due to Hearing Impairments Beyond Loss of Memory

In another study, the same researchers discovered that a case of impaired hearing could not only accelerate the process of cognitive decline, but is more likely to lead to stress, depression or periods of unhappiness. Hospitalization and injury from a fall were also found to be more likely in this study’s participants.

A study of 600 older adults in 2011 concluded that participants who suffered from hearing loss at the beginning of the study were more likely to experience dementia than people who have normal hearing. Additionally, the study found a direct correlation between the severity of hearing loss and the probability of developing a mind-weakening condition. Symptoms of dementia were as much as five times more likely in patients with more severe loss of hearing.

And other studies internationally, besides this Johns Hopkins study, have also brought attention to the loss of mental ability and hearing loss.

A Correlation Between Mental Decline And Loss of Hearing is Supported by International Research

Published in 2014, a University of Utah study of 4,400 seniors discovered similar findings in that dementia will be developed more frequently and sooner by people who have hearing loss than by those with normal hearing.

One study in Italy took it a step further and looked at age related hearing loss by studying two different causes. Through the assessment of peripheral and central hearing loss, researchers determined that people with central hearing loss were more likely to have a mild cognitive impairment than those who had normal hearing or peripheral hearing loss. People with central hearing loss, which is caused by an inability to process sound, commonly struggle to comprehend the words they can hear.

In the Italian study, participants with lower scores on speech comprehension assessments also had lower scores on cognitive tests involving thought and memory.

Although the exact reason for the connection between loss of hearing and mental impairment is still not known, researchers are confident in the connection.

The Way Loss of Hearing Can Impact Mental Acuity

However, researchers involved with the study in Italy do have a theory about the brain’s temporal cortex. When talking about that potential cause, the study’s lead author highlighted the importance of the brain’s superior temporal gyrus which are ridges on the cerebral cortex that are situated above the ear and are involved in the recognition of spoken words.

The theory indicates that age-related changes in the primary auditory cortex, which functions as a receiver of information prior to processing, along with concurrent modifications to the memory areas of the temporal cortex, could be a conduit to a loss of neurons in the brain.

What to do if You Have Loss of Hearing

A pre-clinical stage of dementia, according to the Italian study, is parallel to a mild form of cognitive impairment. Despite that pre-clinical diagnosis, it’s certainly something to be serious about And the number of Us citizens who might be at risk is shocking.

Out of all people, two of three have lost some hearing ability if they are over the age of 75, with considerable hearing loss in 48 million Americans. Loss of hearing even affects 14 percent of those between the ages of 45 and 64.

The good news is that there are methods to decrease these dangers with a hearing aid, which can provide a significant improvement in hearing function for most people. This is according to that lead author of the Italian study.
To find out if you need hearing aids schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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