Hearing loss multiplies the risk of developing dementia

Hearing loss multiplies the risk of developing dementia
  • The WHO says that one in four people will have hearing problems by 2050.
  • Hearing loss causes isolation, inability to interact with others, and difficulty communicating.
  • People with superficial hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia.

Currently there are many studies that link the Hearing loss and its relationship with the development of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. This is what the Mexican Institute of Otology and Neurotology SC (IMON) warns, a medical organization specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing health considered the one with the most experience in the country.

The director of this institution, Dr. Gonzalo Corvera Beharpoints out that there are multiple reasons that can cause the hearing loss but one of the main causes, which occurs organically, is age.

This hearing loss This is because the cells of the inner ear that transform sound into nerve impulses deteriorate with use, and we do not have the ability to regenerate them.

Contrary to what happens with skin cells, for example, which regenerate, the cells of the ear are the same ones we had when we were born. That is, from the time we are born we no longer generate new cells, as they are damaged they are lost and there is no turning back. That is the main reason why all of us, without exception, lose our hearing as time goes by.

Hearing loss accelerators

Noise exposure is a major accelerator. The more we are exposed to noise, the more cells we lose. Likewise, not taking care of our health plays an important role as well. The smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism or having high cholesterol, among others, they also accelerate the loss of these cells, frequently by reducing the caliber of the arteries that carry the blood supply to the ear.

One of the key factors in the development of dementia

The hearing loss causes isolation, since the person decreases their ability to interact and communicate with others. In recent years it has been detected that not hearing well is a risk factor for the development of different types of dementia. In this sense, it has been shown that people with hearing loss are more exposed to contracting this disease. Hearing loss can be classified as superficial, medium, severe and profound.

“People with superficial hearing loss have been shown to be twice as likely to develop dementia. People with average hearing loss have three times the risk and people with severe hearing loss have five times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or similar diseases.”

This association between hearing loss and risk of dementia occurs by several mechanisms. One is sensory deprivation and it is seen in children when we stimulate them auditorily to develop their intelligence and promote their maximum potential. If we have difficulty hearing, we are eliminating one of the senses that most stimulate our brain.

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Another mechanism is increased activity in the part of the brain responsible for listening under difficult conditions, which could trigger the disease process in the brain area responsible for cognitive function.

Studies that support it

The association between hearing loss and dementia was proposed in 2005 by Gates and Mills and corroborated by Frank Lin in 2011, published in the journal Archives of Neurology In that same year. This has since been corroborated by multiple researchers, culminating in the 2020 Lancet Commission report on dementia prevention, in which hearing loss was identified as one of the top 12 modifiable risk factors. In this analysis, it was estimated that the Hearing impairment could be responsible for approximately 8% of dementia cases.

Prevention mechanisms, what can be done?

It is very important that relatives of people over 50 years of age who detect a communication difficulty in a family member, check their hearing and hearing in general. A good diagnosis made on time makes all the difference to be able to treat it on time and avoid this type of consequences.