With World Alzheimer’s Month underway, audiology director, Colin Vallance discusses the link between hearing loss and dementia.

Dementia risks
He said: 'Recent research has revealed hearing loss is one of nine key risk factors that can contribute to the risk of dementia.

'Hearing loss and dementia are both linked with ageing. Most people with dementia are aged over 70 and three-quarters of those over 70 have hearing loss.

'Common signs of hearing loss can often be misdiagnosed as dementia especially as some of the signs focus on a person’s ability to communicate, which could be impaired simply because they are suffering from hearing loss rather than their ability to process what they have heard.'
  
Reducing the impact
'There is evidence that proper diagnosis and management of hearing loss, including the provision of hearing aids, can reduce the risk and impact of dementia.

'Wearing hearing aids can also delay the onset of dementia by slowing brain ageing by eight years.

'Scientists now think that hearing loss may trigger brain damage elsewhere, and also stop people from socially interacting, which is known to protect the brain from cognitive decline.'

Importance of regular checks
'This research illustrates just how vital it is to look after your hearing in order to help look after your overall health. We typically recommend that those aged 55 and over have their hearing checked every two years.

'Regular examinations can help to ensure any hearing loss is detected early to help prevent isolation and depression which are commonly the result of both hearing loss and dementia.'

World Alzheimer’s Month is an international campaign to raise awareness and highlight issues faced by people affected by dementia.

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