Hearing Center Blog

What We Know About Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s

It’s the brain that controls hearing, but it needs good signals from the ears. With this said, aging adults with mild, moderate and severe hearing loss are more at risk to develop Alzheimer's disease and dementia. According to recent studies, scientific proof even puts hearing loss and the dementia connection above other factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, age, sex and race.

Jane O'Connell, Aud, CCC-A, FAAA, has worked as an audiologist since 1988 and is currently working with patients at Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat Hearing Center. Throughout her career, she has encountered many patients who have had Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia in addition to their hearing loss.

And although the reason people with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia is unknown, O'Connell says there have been some breakthroughs to uncovering the connection. "One thought is that the increased cognitive load that occurs from having to "de-code" words, which arrive in the brain with missing parts brought on by hearing loss, reduces the cognitive reserve or resiliency, placing them at higher risk for dementia.

Since Alzheimer's and dementia are not treatable conditions, this gives new hope for a better quality of life if hearing loss is detected. "Once a medically treatable condition has been ruled out, a hearing aid is often the best and only treatment for hearing loss" says O'Connell. "Hearing aids, of course, are not a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The goal with hearing aids is to restore as much of the spectrum of hearing for conversational speech as possible."

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Hearing Aid Advancements

Just like any other organ of your body, it is important to know what is going with your hearing, whether normal or not. Because ears are located near the brain, they often are one of the first signs of something serious, making hearing an important part of overall health. Thanks to advanced technology and trained hearing specialists, remedies for hearing loss are now comfortable, affordable and even convenient.

The most common fix for hearing loss is a hearing aid. But unlike the products of the past, these new devices have come a long way. Clinical Audiologist at Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat, Melissa Baker, M.A., CCC-A, FAAA, has been fitting hearing aids for decades and has seen first-hand the remarkable advances.

“Today’s hearing aids have the capability to connect to mobile devices and patients are loving this new technology,” says Baker. “This Bluetooth feature of the hearing aid can stream anything through the hearing aids, such as cell phone conversations, music or podcasts and even television audio.”

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Stay Connected to the World of Sound
 - New Advances in Hearing Aids

Over 28 million people across the country are affected in their ability to communicate effectively because of hearing loss. While some may find a solution through medication or surgery to correct or improve hearing loss, others are forced to either live with the condition or opt for a hearing aid. Robert Froke from Midwest ENT has specialized in hearing aid technology since 1990. During that time, he has witnessed many exciting changes to improve the lives for those who struggle with hearing loss. "Digital advances and micro-chip technology are allowing our patients to hear more clearly and naturally than every before, especially when dealing with background noise," adds Froke.

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8 Rousing Reasons To Put a Hearing Test At The Top Of Your “Done” List

Of all the life hacks for better living, taking care of your hearing is among the smartest — and it yields an incredible ROI. In short, getting a hearing test is worth it.

No matter what your age, untreated hearing loss can take its toll. The catch is, hearing loss is stealthy. It's usually hard to notice at first. In fact, it tends to come on so gradually that it tricks you into oblivion. Then it robs you of more than you realize, sooner than you realize.

From pilfering away at your relationships and quality of life, to putting you at risk for other health conditions, untreated hearing loss is a silent thief. And don't think for a minute that you're too young to think about hearing loss — you're not.

It's a noisy world. You're part of it. And the numbers show that hearing loss is becoming more common among younger adults — in their 20s and 30s. So make sure you value your hearing. It's a treasure worth keeping.

To give you an extra push, here are eight reasons why you should get a hearing test today.

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Bob's Story - A look into our audiologist's personal journey through hearing loss

I have been a practicing audiologist for the past thirty-three years, and have always taken good care of myself and considered myself to be in very good health. Little did I know on how my health would hit so "close to home" with my profession this past March. It was during the State "B" basketball tournament in Aberdeen, that I took seriously ill with what was diagnosed as influenza B, and for the next five days, I was absolutely miserable. When I finally felt well enough to go back to work, I found that I was dealing with an annoying ringing in my left ear. It was so loud it was disrupting my focus and concentration. In addition to that, my three colleagues pointed out to me that I was "missing" things being said, or misinterpreting people in conversations. I usually have a pretty good sense of humor about those kind of things, but inside, it was starting to bother me.

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