Know Alzheimer’s Disease: Treat Hearing Loss in September during World Alzheimer’s Month

Know Alzheimer's Disease Treat Hearing Loss in September during World Alzheimer's Month(5) (2)

If you know someone who has suffered Alzheimer’s disease, then you already know how devastating this disease is not only for you, but for the caregivers and loved ones who surround them. Therefore, each September, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) celebrates World Alzheimer’s Month.  

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect over 50 million people across the globe with nearly 10 million new cases being reported each year. This September is a great time to ask questions about this common brain condition and what you can do to delay or prevent it from happening to you or your loved ones.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease was named and discovered by Alois Alzheimer in 1906, who first identified tissue damage in the brains of his patients with similar mental health issues. This tissue damage was later identified as the formation of amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles, which caused damage or destruction to brain tissue and stopped the important communication between brain cells. The result of this often starts as mild forgetfulness and over time escalates into the inability to complete everyday tasks. This is because dementia is considered a progressive disease.

How to Recognize Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease can occur at any age but is most identified in people 65 or older. It is estimated that every five years after 65, the risk of dementia doubles. At first, it is common to not notice. Everyone forgets their keys or an appointment every now and then. However, there are a few ways to recognize Alzheimer’s disease.

Memory Loss: Pay attention to your memory. While it is normal to forget an item at the grocery store, if you have dementia, these lapse in memory will become more and more frequent. It’s common to forget the day of the week or forget your medication. Eventually you may identify gaps in your recent memories, like forgetting who you met last week, or what happened yesterday.

Completing Task: You may have driven the same route for years, enjoyed a recipe, or enjoyed a craft or hobby. However, as Alzheimer’s becomes worse, you may forget how to complete the project in the middle of it.

Mood Swings: The issue is that it can be hard to self-identify Alzheimer’s. It creeps up and while others may notice, it’s easy for the person affected to not be aware of these cognitive lapses. Alzheimer’s disease can lead to some changes in your mood or cause you to become confused in social situations. Your loved ones may point out that your personality has shifted.

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Anything you can do to improve the health of your brain can also minimize the risk of developing dementia. While age is a huge and unmodifiable factor in the likeliness of the development of dementia, it doesn’t mean that it is certain. Other factors such as an active lifestyle, a healthy heart conscious diet, avoiding stress and a healthy social life all help increase cognitive health and decrease the risk of cognitive decline

The Connection Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Hearing Loss

Like dementia, the risk of hearing loss increases as we reach 65. One in three people over 65 deal with hearing loss and half of those over 75. While you may not think that hearing loss is as serious as dementia, the truth is that they are very connected. This is because, while hearing happens in the ears, comprehension occurs in the brain. As we lose more and more sound delivered to the auditory cortex of our brain, it creates cognitive strain.

If you’re living with untreated hearing loss, a study for Johns Hopkins by Dr. Frank Lin found that the risk of dementia is significantly higher. The study found that people with a mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia for those with moderate hearing loss the risk was tripled and found to be a five-fold risk for those with a severe loss.

Get Your Hearing Tested

The fight against Alzheimer’s starts with you. This disease starts with individuals but the devastating effects ripple through communities of those who love them. Like dementia, we are not always aware we have a hearing issue, but that does not mean that it isn’t affecting our cognitive health. One thing you can do to fight Alzheimer’s Disease this September is to schedule a hearing test. The tests are painless, easy and can identify if you are struggling with a hearing loss once and for all.

A Link Between Stress and Hearing Loss

A Link Between Stress and Hearing Loss

 

Today’s world is fast paced full of constant challenges. The pace of these days can be challenging and ultimately stressful if we don’t make sure to put time aside in our busy days to deal with stress. No one wants to live with stress as it can cause so many unplanned complications, including lost sleep interfering our work, and damaging relationships at home.

Negative Consequences linked to Stress

Your body deals with challenging situations by releasing chemicals into your bloodstream that give you a burst of energy or strength. While this is a natural response in our bodies that has helps us through difficult moments an excess of stress can be extremely damaging. Stress can wear us down and exhaust our bodies. Not only is stress emotionally exhausting but it is a health risk as well, weakening our immune systems, causing headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety attacks, and more.

Stress can Cause Hearing Loss

When your body responds to stress, the overproduction of adrenaline reduces blood flow to the ears, affecting hearing. The fragile hair cells in the inner ear rely on a constant flow of blood to receive the right amount of oxygen and other nutrients. When daily stress builds up day after day it can disturb blood circulation throughout the body and without a constant blood flow, the hair cells can become damaged sometimes permanently. This can lead to immediate hearing loss if you become so stressed that blood flow to the ears is stopped completely.

Stress and Hypertension

Hypertension and hearing loss also share a link. Hypertension is high blood pressure that often accompanies stress, and has severe hearing repercussions. When your blood pressure is high, your blood vessels are damaged. This damage isn’t centered in one area of the body – your entire body is affected, including your ears. And when the blood vessels in your ears are damaged your hearing could be impaired. Chronic stress in the form of hypertension often leads to hearing loss and tinnitus. The symptoms of hearing loss due to stress include a blocked feeling in the ears, pressure or pain in the ear, or a complete loss of hearing in one or both ears.

Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Many studies have linked stress to tinnitus, both as a cause and as a symptom. Tinnitus is described as a ringing, hissing or roaring sound in the ears frequently caused by exposure to loud noise or certain medicines. It can come and go but tends to be more acute when a person is dealing with stress. A study by S. Herbert found that 53% of patients with tinnitus said their symptoms started during stressful period of their lives, or became significantly acute during a stressful time. It’s a vicious cycle, as stress causes tinnitus, which inevitably causes more stress, which in turn causes even more tinnitus.

Ways to De-Stress

If you have hearing loss due to stress, the first step is to reduce your stress levels and prevent further damage.

    • Take a moment. When you are feeling overwhelmed take a moment to decompress. Even 20 minutes away from the source of a stressor can give you perspective to help you feel less overwhelmed.

 

    • Exercise. When stress affects the brain, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Just 20 minutes daily increases blood flow to your body each day provides health benefits for both your body and mind.

 

    • Talk about it. Talk to someone who can understand what you’re going through and provide positive feedback. This could be a close friend or a professional.

 

    • Meditate. Like exercise, meditation helps the mind and body relax and focus.

 

  • Do the things you love. It’s important to make time every day to do things you love. Listen to music, go for a swim, making yourself a cup of tea, start a new hobby, read a book or watch TV – make sure you take the time to unwind.

Seek Help for Hearing Loss

If you are suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus, we can help. Visit us at Hearing Consultants to schedule a hearing test. With comprehensive hearing tests and personalized advice, we’ll work with you to find the best treatment to de-stress your life.

 

A Link Between Hypertension & Hearing Loss

A Link Between Hypertension & Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss is linked to a host of negative health outcomes, such as reduced quality of life, relationship struggles, social isolation, and even depression. We now know that there is also a connection between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss, but does that also include high blood pressure? How do you know what to look for and what are the signs?

What is Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease is simply defined as a disease of the heart or the blood vessels. Anytime your heart muscle isn’t working properly, or blood flow in your veins and arteries is impeded, that is cardiovascular disease. So what about high blood pressure? Is that cardiovascular disease? And what does that have to do with hearing loss?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 70 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure, or hypertension. That amounts to nearly one in three adults. Furthermore, another one in three adults are living with elevated blood pressure results that are below the level considered to be high blood pressure but above the norm. This is referred to as prehypertension.  Only half of Americans with high blood pressure have their condition under control. This leads to a multitude of health problems and risks.

High Blood Pressure and Hearing Loss

While hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors, it has become clear that high blood pressure may also be a contributing factor of hearing loss. A recent study evaluated the potential association between high blood pressure and hearing loss. In that research, a total of 274 individuals between the ages of 45 and 64 were evaluated. Dr. Mohan Jagade, a physician in the Department of ENT and Head and Neck Surgery, Grant Medical College and J.J. Hospital, and his team discovered that for people with elevated blood pressure, there was a significant increase in the presence of hearing loss. The researchers in the study surmised that hypertension is an accelerating factor in the degeneration of the auditory system and hearing as people age.

Hypertension and Hearing Loss

The link between high blood pressure and impaired hearing isn’t difficult to understand. When your blood pressure is high, your blood vessels are damaged. This damage isn’t centered in one area of the body – your entire body is affected, including your ears. And when the blood vessels in your ears are damaged – and have a fatty plaque buildup – your hearing could be impaired.

Hearing Loss and Risk of Stroke

There is also a high correlation between high blood pressure and the incidence of a first stroke. The CDC reports that approximately 8 out of 10 people having a first stroke also have high blood pressure. About ten years ago the American Heart Association published a recap of a large group study on the association between sudden sensorineural hearing loss and stroke. Researchers found that the there is a definitive and clear correlation between the two. The group within the study who had severe hearing loss was more than 150 percent more likely to experience a stroke within two years of the occurrence of a sudden hearing loss! Any potential disturbance in the blood flow to the tiny capillaries in the inner ear can cause permanent and devastating hearing loss, and it is theorized that the presence of high blood pressure impacts the blood flow to the delicate structures in the inner ear.

Healthy Hearing Protects Mental Health

With an increase in hearing loss, individuals often experience more feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression. This can lead to lower speech understanding.  There is even a link between untreated hearing loss and dementia. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that if you have any risk factors for hearing loss, such as high blood pressure, you should have your hearing thoroughly evaluated on an annual basis to detect early hearing loss before it is too late.

Blood Pressure Checks and Hearing Tests Go Together

If you or someone you know has high blood pressure, visit us at Hearing Consultants today. Then visit your physician to have your blood pressure checked. The two conditions often go hand-in-hand, so recognizing the connection and seeking treatment could save someone’s hearing – or their life.

 

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month

Did you know that November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month? In 1983, President Ronald Reagan wanted to shed light on this devastating disease, which at the time affect 2 million people. That number has since grown to over 5 million people affected by Alzheimer’s disease.  Here at Hearing Consultants, our commitment to hearing health means that we want to bring awareness to the link between untreated hearing loss and a potential risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies on Hearing Loss and Cognitive Abilities

A striking connection has been discovered between hearing loss and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Frank Lin and his fellow researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered two important findings regarding this connection. In the first case, they have found that hearing loss and dementia are statistically linked, with those who have an untreated hearing loss more likely to experience diminished cognitive abilities, which opens up the risk for dementia. In another study, they also found a link between the rate of decline for those who have both dementia and hearing loss. In other words, those who had hearing loss along with dementia experienced a faster decline in their cognitive ability.

It is important to note that hearing loss affects two-thirds of people over the age of 65 and is a natural occurrence with aging. Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is common and treatable. On the other hand, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (which makes up 60% to 80% of dementia cases) are not natural conditions when it comes to aging. Among the risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s, two stand out to us: untreated hearing loss and social isolation.

The Effects of Hearing Loss on Your Social Life

Take a moment to think back to the last time you were at a large social gathering for the holidays. Perhaps it was a public event such as a concert, play, or movie. You might be thinking of a family party where everyone converged at the end of the year to catch up and revisit memories from past holidays. You might even be thinking of the experience of shopping for gifts in a crowded locale, such as a shopping mall or city commercial district. Now ask yourself: how important was my hearing in that instance?

With few exceptions, you will agree that hearing is crucial to your ability to take part in a social gathering around the holidays. Even at small events, such as a gathering of immediate family members, the ability to have a conversation relies on the ability to hear what others are saying. Without that ability, the puzzle falls to pieces, and you are left feeling alone within the crowd. You might even recall holidays past when you were able to easily relate with your family members and closest friends. Without the ability to hear properly in a conversation, that connection can be lost.

One of the most common signs of untreated hearing loss is social isolation. As we know, hearing loss can be an isolating experience. Those who struggle to understand what others have to say may find themselves increasingly reticent to engage in social events, parties, and family gatherings. Even if they do attend, they may prefer to keep quiet and let others do the talking. Any attempt at communication may be met with frustration, anger, or embarrassment. Some will feel that they are not able to connect with even their closest loved ones. All of this can accumulate to the experience of social isolation. Either desiring to stay home during social events or avoiding communication while attending them, people with hearing loss may find themselves isolated from others.

This social isolation may hold a key to understanding the link with dementia. We know that communication is key to keeping the cognitive process freely flowing and open to new information.

Treating Hearing Loss

This holiday season, take the opportunity to give a priceless gift to your family by seeking hearing loss treatment. If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing abilities, it is important to contact us at Hearing Consultants. Just imagine how much more enjoyable these holiday gatherings can be when you feel connected to the sounds around you! Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Cognitive Difficulties and Untreated Hearing Loss

Cognitive difficulties and untreated hearing loss

 

September is World Alzheimer’s month and it seems only fitting we talk about untreated hearing loss. Why? Because untreated hearing loss has been linked to the onset of dementia, the most common form of Alzheimer’s. You shouldn’t delay getting a hearing evaluation at Hearing Consultants.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a brain condition that affects parts of the brain that control cognitive processes – thought, memory and language. It is not a normal part of aging. It shrinks parts of the brain cells. Dementia is a form of Alzheimer’s and 60 to 80% of those with dementia have it because of Alzheimer’s. There is no cure, but there are certain things you can do to combat Alzheimer’s and one of them is maintaining good hearing. Numerous studies done here, in Europe and in Asia have discovered what is likely a link between untreated hearing loss and the on set of dementia.

The most common symptoms of dementia are memory loss and the loss of cognitive abilities which in turn leads to withdrawing from society and work.
Forgetfulness should not be confused with dementia although memory loss is one of the first signs. Forgetfulness is misplacing your keys because you took them out of your pocket and set them down. Memory loss is walking into the park where you’ve walked hundreds of times before and not remembering which path to take to get out.

Early stage indicators

Alzheimer’s typically starts to manifest around 65 or so – but can show up earlier. Hearing loss and Alzheimer’s advance slowly, but untreated hearing loss increases the odds of dementia and, unlike dementia – it can be treated!
Some early indicators of Alzheimer’s include: getting lost in familiar places, trouble finding common words to describe common objects, trouble handling money and paying bills, repeating the same question in conversations in a very short span of time, taking longer to complete every day tasks, displaying poor judgement, losing things or misplacing them in odd places, paranoia and distrust of family and caregivers and mood and personality changes.

It’s use it or lose it

We’ve all seen that information on how to keep your brain sharp to avoid Alzheimer’s and that is, actually, one way,. There’s also exercise, eating healthy, and getting high blood pressure treated; obesity is a factor and untreated hearing loss.

The idea is that processing sounds correctly sends auditory signals to the brain. It keeps that part of the brain active and engaged. Over time, if you don’t treat hearing loss, those parts of the brain that process sound start to go dark – literally. Brain imaging of those with untreated hearing loss and dementia show portions of the brain are dark or not being used.

Hearing devices, luckily, fire those parts of the brain back up. Those with dementia and untreated hearing loss do show improvement in cognitive abilities with the addition of hearing aids, studies show.

Nearly 48 million Americans have hearing loss and unfortunately, statistics show many wait between three and five years to get hearing loss treated. During that time, the brain strains to “hear” and process sounds and conversations. This can result in a sort of cognitive overload which may hasten dementia. Scientists explain it as diverting brain power that should be used for cognitive purposes to trying to decipher and process sounds.

Isolation also a factor

Untreated hearing loss can cause you to withdraw from societal interaction. You may not want people to notice you can’t hear things or process a conversation. These interactions also help keep the brain sharp. There are some indications that depression associated with societal withdrawal because of untreated hearing loss can also increase the chances of dementia.

Hearing devices can help

The first step towards hearing health is scheduling a hearing evaluation at Hearing Consultants. A painless hearing exam will determine if you have hearing loss and the staff professionals can then set you on a course for better hearing health. Hearing aid styles these days range from oh-so-tiny devices that fit discreetly inside your ear to over the ear devices tinted to match your skin or hair. Most people can’t tell if it’s a hearing aid or a Bluetooth device! It’s not worth delaying even a day – call for a test today.