Medical Monday: Hearing loss and dementia

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(WXOW) – Researchers continue to examine the risk factors for dementia. One of particular concern is hearing loss.

Dr. Justin Wilson, a Gundersen audiologist, said it’s partly due to how prevalent hearing loss is. He said about 10-20% of the population experiences some form of hearing loss. That equates to 35-48 million Americans.

Right now, experts are looking into three main areas of how hearing loss contributes to dementia: cognitive resource depletion, brain atrophy and social isolation. Dr. Wilson spoke in particular about cognitive resource depletion. He likened it to someone with low vision having to squint at a chalkboard all day feeling exhausted having to perform just the simple task of seeing.

When it comes to whether treating hearing loss can stave off the risk of dementia, the jury is still out. Ongoing research looks at how hearing aids might help with other quality of life issues. Another study from Johns Hopkins University measures how state of the art hearing treatment might stave off cognitive decline as opposed to “wellness advise” treatment.

Dustin Luecke

Dustin Luecke

Dustin Luecke anchors News 19 Daybreak weekday mornings.

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