Irish scientists may have discovered a link between hearing loss and dementia and are calling for more research.
It comes after a ground-breaking study by Trinity’s Institute of Neuroscience found that dementia occurred more frequently among those with age related hearing loss.
Trinity conducted the study alongside Global Brain Health. It was the largest study in the world of its kind, with over 20,000 people from 12 countries taking part.
They aimed to discover whether an association between dementia and hearing loss existed or whether they happened to progress at the same time.
The study is the first to confirm a link between hearing loss and dementia.
Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability with the most common form being Alzheimer’s. A loss of memory is the main symptom of dementia.
It is believed that deaf people use more of their mental resources to compensate for their lack of hearing and therefore have less energy for other brain activities such as memory.
The team are calling for more research as they are still unsure on how casual the relationship between hearing loss and dementia is – and what other reasons there might be for the connection.
They also want to look into the idea of whether preventing hearing loss could possibly prevent or slow the onset of dementia.
Report author David Loughrey said: “A hearing problem can certainly contribute to difficulty with uptake of information and for this reason should be addressed.
“It’s too early for GPs to tell patients this will lower the risk of dementia.
“We need intervention trials to look at the benefits of hearing loss treatment over a long follow-up period to see if it deceases the risk of someone getting dementia.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling