If you only have trouble hearing and following conversations in noisy environments like Ocean Grill, you may feel that your hearing isn’t that bad and doesn’t pose any risks to your health or wellbeing. However, recent research shows that people with a speech-in-noise hearing impairment having an elevated risk of developing dementia.
What the Research Shows
A recent study published in July 2021 in Alzheimer’s and Dementia investigated a phenomenon known as the “cocktail party problem,” which describes when someone has trouble focusing on a single speaker or conversation when they’re in a noisy environment. While people with normal hearing can filter out background noise and focus on their conversation partner, both hearing loss and cognitive decline make this task difficult.
In order to study this, researchers worked with 82,000 people over 60 years old who were participants in the ongoing dementia study called the UK Biobank. At the start of the study, all participants – none of which had dementia – were tasked with identifying spoken numbers that were played over white noise. They were then grouped into three categories based on their performance.
After 11 years, 11,285 of the participants had developed dementia. Researchers found that the group who performed worst on the speech-in-noise test were most likely to develop dementia.
What This Means
Most of us think of memory problems as the main symptom of dementia, but it’s also the case that many people with dementia experience the cocktail party problem. This study suggests that hearing changes aren’t just a symptom of dementia, but a risk factor that could be treated.
If you’re experiencing problems hearing speech in background noise, it’s important to be tested for hearing loss and seek treatment promptly.
Hearing Aids Can Help Delay a Dementia Diagnosis
Fortunately, research shows that hearing aids can help prevent or delay a dementia diagnosis.
One study published in September 2019 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society examined the association between hearing aids and time to diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, anxiety, depression and injurious falls among older adults.
To do this, researchers examined data collected between 2008 and 2016 from nearly 115,000 adults over the age of 66. They found that the use of hearing aids was associated with a delayed diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, anxiety, and injurious falls among older adults with hearing loss.
If you’re ready to take the next step in treating your hearing loss, call the experts at Aaron’s Hearing Aid & Audiology Center today.