Research continues to point to the links between memory loss and certain types of hearing loss. With the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimating that approximately 15 percent of the adult population of the United States have a form of hearing loss, these links are worrying.
Italian researcher Rodolfo Sardone, of the NIH and University of Bari in Italy, published findings from a study examining the link between a form of age-related hearing loss and the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in April of this year.
Researchers looked at more than 1,600 people with an average age of 75 to determine the link between hearing and memory. People with ‘central age-related hearing loss’ were twice as likely to have mild cognitive impairment as those with normal hearing. These are the people who struggle to make sense of sounds, who say: ‘I can hear, but I can’t understand.’
Sardone said: ‘These preliminary results suggest that central hearing loss may share the same progressive loss of functioning in brain cells that occurs in cognitive decline, rather than the sensory deprivation that happens with peripheral hearing loss. It’s a problem with perception. Tests of hearing perception should be given to people who are older than 65 and also to people with cognitive impairment.’
Approximately one quarter of the over-75s involved had peripheral hearing loss, with 1 in 8 suffering from central hearing loss. Of the 192 people with central hearing loss, three-quarters had mild cognitive impairment – which includes problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment.
Of the 609 study participants with no hearing loss, 60 percent had mild cognitive impairment, showing a link between central hearing loss and memory problems. In contrast, people with peripheral hearing loss were no more likely to have mild cognitive impairment than people with no hearing problems.
As more research points to links between hearing loss and memory problems, it’s even more important to ensure you are staying on top of your hearing health. If you’d like to speak to one of our hearing care experts to schedule a hearing assessment, contact us today on 212-755-5100 or click here to request an appointment.