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According to the World Health Organization, up to 360 million people in the world have impaired hearing.
Recent research suggests that untreated hearing loss may lead to or exacerbate cognitive impairment. If research can show that hearing loss leads to cognitive decline, this would provide hope for addressing one cause of this widespread problem which is becoming more prevalent as the number of older adults in the population continues to increase almost exponentially. With the advancement of medical science over the last few decades, one would think that we would be abe to explain the reasons for each individual's hearing loss, unfortunately this is not the case.
Conductive Hearing Loss occurs when there is a problem in the outer ear or the middle ear, such as ear wax, fluid behind the eardrum, or middle ear infection. Approximately one in eight Americans – more than 36 million people – experience some degree of hearing loss, and by the year 2030 that number is expected to more than double. Studies show that people over 65 account for more than 75 percent of those who do not hear properly. Sensory Hearing Loss – Sensory hearing loss has many names: sensory-neural, inner ear, or nerve loss, and it accounts for more than 90 percent of all hearing loss. Conductive Hearing Loss —Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with sound transmitting through the ear canal, eardrum or the tiny bones (ossicular chain) of the middle ear, resulting in a general reduction in the volume of sound. Mixed Hearing Loss —Mixed hearing loss occurs when both a sensory and a conductive hearing loss are present.
Aging is the primary, natural cause of hearing loss, but there are many other factors that can cause or contribute.
Even in the early stages of hearing loss, an evaluation should not be put off or set aside. To ensure that hearing loss does not go undetected and untreated, annual hearing evaluations should be a part of every health routine. Studies associating hearing impairment with memory disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s have shown an extraordinarily high prevalence of hearing loss among individuals who have such disorders. Tinnitus is the presence of noise that only exists within the ear and is usually heard only by the person it affects.
Studies show that more than 90 percent of people with tinnitus also have some form of hearing loss. Because of the high prevalence of hearing loss associated with tinnitus, a hearing evaluation is recommended.
About 33% Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 and 47% of those 75 and older have hearing loss.

In 2013 Frank Lin, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine showing that older adults with hearing loss were at greater risk for problems with thinking and memory than were people of the same age who had normal hearing. One is that hearing loss causes the brain to have to work harder to make sense of what may come in as garbled auditory signals; the brain has to recognize speech and separate it from background noise. If cognitive decline can be slowed by addressing hearing loss, it would have a major impact on public health. Almost half are under the age of 65 and 54% of the population over the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss. Many times this type of hearing loss may be corrected by medical or surgical treatments.Symptoms of Hearing Loss. The most common is sensory hearing loss, followed by conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss may result from earwax or other obstructions that block the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, or damage to the eardrum or the ossicular chain. Hearing examinations should be incorporated into routine annual health screenings to determine whether a hearing loss is present. People in the early stages of hearing loss are frequently unaware of the problem, even when those around them are affected. These studies lend support to the hypothesis that hearing loss may contribute to cognitive dysfunction, particularly in older adults. With hearing loss, the brain does not receive sounds below a certain threshold, and is unable to properly process important sound and speech cues. People with hearing loss find it difficult to talk with others, and may not enjoy participating in social activities if they cannot hear and contribute to conversations. Nearly 2000 adults aged 75 to 84 had both their hearing and their cognitive abilities tested annually over a period of seven years. Another theory proposes that hearing loss may cause parts of the brain to atrophy, but the question is whether the hearing loss causes loss of brain volume, resulting in cognitive decline, or whether the hearing loss leads to social isolation, which then causes the decline in cognitive function. Hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in our adult population, following only high blood pressure and arthritis. With this type of hearing loss the hair cells in the inner ear (Cochlea) have become damaged or less effective. If you recognize any of the following symptoms of hearing loss, please contact one of our offices or your personal physician to have your hearing professionally evaluated. A professional hearing evaluation is recommended to determine whether hearing loss is present and, if so, to what degree.

Conductive hearing losses are often temporary and many subtypes can be treated medically, although some conductive hearing losses may be permanent if there has been irreparable damage to the outer or middle ear.
Experts suggest that a hearing evaluation should be part of any assessment of cognitive function. Deprived long enough, the brain may begin to rewire itself, forgetting how to hear these sounds and reducing its ability to process sound and speech.
But tinnitus can also be brought about by conditions that don’t affect the ear, such as anemia, atherosclerosis, heart murmurs, and certain medications.
For those with both tinnitus and hearing loss, it has been reported that hearing aids often help to mask the tinnitus, thereby making it more tolerable. Lin found that the cognitive abilities of those with hearing loss declined up to 40% faster than other participants. On average, once a person determines that they have a hearing loss, they wait over seven years before seeking assistance.The impact of a hearing loss can be far reaching and involve many aspects of one's life. Although many patients with this type of loss perform well with hearing aids, a doctor should be consulted first to rule out any medical contraindications that would prohibit hearing aid use. Even if the ability to hear soft sounds is restored, as with hearing aids, relearning how to hear after auditory deprivation sets in can be exceedingly difficult and, for some, impossible. Because tinnitus is a head noise, it can impair hearing by drowning out speech and other more preferable sounds. In addition to relieving tinnitus, hearing aids can also help to reduce the effects of hearing loss that often accompanies tinnitus. Hearing impaired individuals may have difficulty localizing sounds, understanding speech in busy environments, and participating in everyday normal conversations. Although there is no cure for sensory hearing loss, it is typically treated with hearing aids. Recent studies also indicate that untreated hearing loss negatively affects one's overall health, quality of life and happiness.Causes of Adult Hearing Loss.

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