Dementia May Be Linked To Hearing Loss

02.15.11 | FL News Team

Gradual loss of hearing in some people may also be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.  CNN reports a study at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore shows elderly people with mild hearing loss were nearly twice as likely as those with normal hearing to develop dementia.  Hearing loss that was severe resulted in a risk that was five time greater.

Researchers say it's unclear why the loss of hearing could lead to a decline in mental function.  They note that a loss of hearing may bring on social isolation, which has been linked to dementia, or it may impede the brain's ability to divide labor.  Lead researcher Frank Lin says the brain might have to reallocate resources to assist with hearing at the expense of cognition.  The study appears in the "Archives of Neurology."