Do you like attending classes at Makers Mess with your friends to learn new skills? It may be easy for you to follow along now, but if you’re developing hearing loss, it could make it difficult in the future. This is especially true because recent research has linked a certain type of hearing loss with mild cognitive impairment.
What the Research Shows
A research team at the National Institute of Health and the University of Bari in Italy, led by Rodolfo Sardone, examined data from 1,604 people with an average age of 75 who were participants in the Great Age Study. The participants underwent both hearing and memory tests.
The researchers looked at two types of age-related hearing loss: central and peripheral. Central hearing loss is related to the brain’s ability to process sound. Someone with central hearing loss can hear, but not necessarily understand, certain sounds. Peripheral hearing loss is related to the structures of the ear. Someone with peripheral hearing loss cannot detect certain sounds.
Approximately 12% of study participants had central hearing loss, and 26% had peripheral hearing loss.
Thirty-three percent of participants received a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Further broken down, 75% of individuals with central hearing loss had MCI compared to 60% of individuals with peripheral hearing loss or no hearing loss. The researchers found that people with central hearing loss were twice as likely to have MCI compared to those with normal hearing.
Why the Connection?
The researchers hypothesize that central hearing loss is linked to MCI due to neurodegeneration, or loss/death of neurons, in the auditory cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for processing auditory input, and the temporal cortex, which is responsible for memory.
The study authors report that, “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.”
The solution? Seek treatment for hearing loss early, as early diagnosis and treatment is key to reducing the risk of developing dementia. For more information about this connection or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call The House Institute Hearing Health Centers today.