By Linda Carroll
(Reuters Health) – Slight decreases in hearing that are less than the usual threshold for diagnosing hearing loss are associated with a measurable mental decline in the elderly, according to a new study.
As Researchers a At a more severe threshold for mild hearing loss, they found evidence that the established association between age-related hearing loss and cognitive decline sets in earlier than what is known in the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery report.
Seniors who had hearing problems at the more sensitive threshold would have normal hearing by the current standard for the diagnosis of hearing loss: 25 decibels, the researchers said. However, when the threshold was set at a hearing loss of only 1
These individuals also had a "clinically significant" cognitive decline. Some scientists suggest that hearing problems can lead to thought disorders because the brain has to pay so much attention to hearing that it can not do other mental functions as much.
"People with poorer hearing consume so much more brain power to decode the spoken words that they can not digest the meaning of what is said, which is the intellectually stimulating part," said lead author of the study, Dr. Ing. Justin Golub, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the Irving Medical Center of New York's Presbyterian / Columbia University in New York City.
Golub compares brain fitness with physical fitness. If runners had to think about how to take each step, they would not be very fast, he explained. Similarly, parts of the brain involved in complex thinking are less "burdened" as more resources are used to decrypt the words in a conversation.
It has also been shown that "people with poorer hearing socialize less". because it's difficult – and therefore less intellectually stimulating conversation leads, "said Golub." The brain is like a tool that needs to be maintained. "
For the new Golub and colleagues analyzed information from the Hispanic Community Health Study (HCHS) and the National Health and Nutrition Study (NHANES), which included data on participants who received both hearing and cognitive tests.
The researchers focused HCHS participants over the age of 50 who did not develop early had hearing loss and NHANES patients aged 60 to 69. This resulted in a total of 6,451 persons with an average age of just over 59 years for the analysis
After Considering Demographic and Cardiovascular Risk Factors – Both This May Affect the Likelihood of Cognitive P robleme – the researchers found that decreased hearing was associated with poorer performance of cognitive testing. Emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art … = 157 & lang = DE
"People who heard a whisper hard (but technically speaking) (who still had normal pitch) scored in a test on speed and attention 6 points worse than people who had absolutely perfect hearing, "said Golub in an e – mail. "This took into account other factors, such as age, and scientists say the 6-point change could make a significant difference in their daily functioning."
The study should not investigate how hearing loss could directly impact cognitive performance decline, the researchers acknowledge.
Nevertheless, Golub suggests that people could be able to stay mentally sharper when they were wearing hearing aids as soon as they started having mild hearing problems as well. In fact, he said "We're currently conducting a randomized controlled trial in which we treat a group of people with hearing loss and compare them to a group without treatment." We'll see if people with hearing aids in a few Years are cognitively sharper. "
Golub and his colleagues have looked at something that other researchers have not considered: the potential impact of mild hearing loss on cognition, Dr. Maura Cosetti, associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine and director of the Cochlear Impl Ant Center at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, New York City.
More recently, researchers have increasingly wondered, "If we treat a hearing loss, we can improve cognition, or at least stabilize the rate of decline." The answer seems to be yes, but it's too early to do so Unfortunately, many people who develop hearing problems are not prepared to use a hearing aid, Cosetti said, "It's something that's anchored in our culture," she added.
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/33ZACA4 and https://bit.ly/2OpIy7x JAMA ENT Surgery, online November 14, 2019.