Articles by Natural Health Author Jaime A. Heidel
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Hearing Loss May Triple Dementia Risk
by Jaime A. Heidel
(The Best Years in Life) Do you struggle to understand what those around you are saying? Have you been sitting closer and closer to the television just to hear what's going on? If so, you could be at increased risk of dementia.
The results of an 18-year study (which concluded in 2011) revealed that out of 639 mentally-sharp individuals, those with moderate-to-severe hearing loss were up to three times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
A 2013 study, which examined 2,000 older adults with an average age of 77, noted that those with hearing loss significant enough to affect conversation had a 24 percent risk for marked cognitive decline.
Hearing loss seemed to have more of an impact on cognitive decline in those aged 60 and over. Furthermore, the likelihood of Alzheimer's development jumped to 20 percent for every 10 decibels of lost hearing.
Since hearing loss and dementia are both slow and insidious processes, their symptoms are often ignored until the damage is more difficult to reverse and control.
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Three Reasons Hearing Loss Could Contribute to Dementia
Although the studies revealed a strong connection between hearing loss and dementia, it was more difficult to pinpoint the exact nature of the relationship.
The following theories have been presented:
It is believed that the more someone has to strain to hear, the harder their brain must work to take in basic sensory information. Over time, this could draw resources away from brain functions like working memory and storage, which eventually reduces the brain's resilience.
Imaging tests in older adults have revealed that those with hearing loss have less gray matter in the part of their brains that processes speech. This doesn't mean that any actual brain cells are lost, but like a muscle left to atrophy, brain cells shrink when they don't get enough stimulation.
When you're always straining to hear in crowds or asking those around you to repeat themselves, you may no longer feel comfortable in social situations. This can lead to social isolation, which decreases time spent keeping certain parts of the brain functioning at their best.
Reverse Hearing Loss Naturally to Prevent Cognitive Decline
A prospective, randomized study conducted by the The American Laryngological, Rhinological, and Otological Society revealed that idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) may be reversed with zinc supplements by decreasing the oxidative stress around the cochlea.
Ginkgo biloba has also been shown to reduce SSNHL by improving nerve function, increasing blood circulation, and providing antioxidant protection. This herb has also been used successfully in the treatment and prevention of dementia.
Furthermore, quitting smoking can help reverse age-related hearing loss as ears are nourished by the blood supply and smoking constricts blood vessels.
Hearing loss and dementia are often associated with aging, but that doesn't mean it's inevitable. Caught and treated early, hearing impairment and brain health may be improved so you can be 'sharp as a tack' for years to come!
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