Data from many studies suggest that the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise. However, many of the symptoms associated with early Alzheimer’s disease are the same as those associated with hearing loss.
According to a recent study led by Frank R. Lin, M.D., Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, the risk of dementia increased among participants with at least a mild 25-decibel hearing loss. Participants with more severe hearing loss were most likely to be diagnosed with dementia — and even Alzheimer’s. The relationship between Alzheimer’s and hearing loss should come as no surprise. After all, you can’t remember what someone said if you didn’t hear them say it.
Several symptoms are common to both Alzheimer’s and untreated hearing loss. These symptoms include depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation, and problems talking and understanding what is being said. In addition, people with either Alzheimer’s or unidentified hearing loss may have inappropriate responses to social cues, lower scores on tests of mental function, attitudes of denial, defensiveness or negativity and increased distrust of others’ motives, even those of family and friends. Individuals with unidentified hearing loss may appear paranoid and excessively concerned that others are talking about them.
“Untreated hearing loss is a significant quality-of-life issue,” said Sreek Cherukuri, MD, a board-certified ear, nose and throat physician based in Chicago, Ill. “It can cause marital and family strain, lead to social isolation, depression, and anxiety. And the solution is so simple.”
To help more people improve their lives by improving their hearing, Dr. Cherukuri designed the MDHearingAid, a comfortable, cost-effective way to improve hearing. “Our mission is to remove cost as an obstacle for the millions with hearing loss that cannot afford a custom hearing aid,” he said.
If you are concerned about a loved one who is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, talk to a doctor about testing for hearing loss. In several studies, even patients with Alzheimer’s showed improved ability to understand and communicate after they were fitted with hearing aids. (For more information about Dr. Cherukuri’s device, visit MDHearingAid.com.)