Recent research conducted by the University of California San Diego and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute has illuminated the connection between dementia and hearing loss. In this article we will look at the results of the study and some holistic approaches to reducing your risk.
Hearing Loss and Dementia Risk: A Natural Health Perspective:
Hearing loss is a prevalent concern among the elderly population, affecting over 60% of adults aged 70 and above in the United States. While the connection between hearing loss and an elevated risk of dementia is recognized, the intricate mechanisms underlying this association remain a subject of ongoing research.
Researchers embarked on a groundbreaking study employing hearing assessments and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate the potential correlation between hearing impairment and variations in specific brain regions. Published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease on November 21, 2023, the study findings uncovered compelling revelations.
130 Participants were enrolled in this observational study from 2003 – 2005 and they presented with hearing impairment that exhibited microstructural disparities in the auditory regions of the temporal lobes. The participants subsequently underwent MRI scans between 2014 to 2016. Alterations were observed in areas of the frontal cortex, responsible for speech and language processing, along with other regions linked to executive function.
The research team, led by Dr. Linda K. McEvoy, a senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and professor emeritus at the UC San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, noted that these results suggest that hearing impairment may lead to changes in brain areas related to sound processing, as well as in areas associated with attention. The additional cognitive effort required to comprehend sounds, and sensory deprivation may induce modifications in the brain, increasing the risk of dementia.
Holistic Approaches for Cognitive Health and Hearing Protection:
1. Reducing Cognitive Effort:
The adoption of natural strategies to alleviate the cognitive effort required for sound comprehension. This includes using subtitles while watching television and movies, embracing live captioning or speech-to-text apps, and promoting the use of hearing aids.
2. Quiet Environments:
Engage in conversations and activities in tranquil environments, free from excessive noise. This can significantly reduce the cognitive load on the brain.
3. Mindful Hearing Practices:
Incorporate mindfulness and meditation techniques to enhance auditory awareness and reduce stress, which can contribute to improved hearing health.
4. Nutritional Support:
Try to have a diet rich in antioxidants, plant source omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins that support cognitive and auditory health.
1. [University of California San Diego – Hearing Loss Is Associated with Subtle Changes in the Brain](https://today.ucsd.edu/story/hearing-loss-is-associated-with-subtle-changes-in-the-brain)
2. [Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease – Research Article](http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-230767)
3. [UC San Diego](https://ucsd.edu/)