Vail health: Untreated hearing loss may increase dementia risk |

Vail health: Untreated hearing loss may increase dementia risk

Dr. Daria Stakiw
Special to the DailyDaria Stakiw

A recent study found that untreated hearing loss may increase the risk of dementia. Investigators from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine published the findings in the February 2011 issue of Archives of Neurology. According to the researchers, “for individuals older than 60 years, more than one third of the risk of dementia was associated with hearing loss.”

The study suggests that successful treatment of hearing loss in adults can minimize the risk of dementia. The researchers recommended that “the risk of dementia can be prevented or minimized through the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.”

More and more studies are proving that untreated hearing loss can have serious negative, but almost invisible, effects on both the family and the person with the hearing loss. Previous research has found that people with hearing loss who do not seek help are 50 percent more likely to experience social isolation, depression and anxiety.

On the other hand, a number of studies prove that hearing aids provide significant benefits. A University of Iowa study found that adults with hearing loss who use hearing aids reported more satisfaction with life and less depression than those who did not use hearing aids.

Another study of more than 4,000 adults who have hearing loss found that those who use hearing aids report:

• Better family relationships.

• Greater independence.

• Improved social life.

Family members reported even greater improvements in these areas than did the hearing aid users themselves.

Fortunately, hearing loss can be successfully treated through the use of hearing aids. Unfortunately, hearing loss remains the most common untreated problem in adults over 50 years of age. It often goes undetected for several years because the loss develops very gradually and not all sounds are affected.

Dr. Daria Stakiw has been practicing in the Vail Valley for seven years and recently opened up her own audiology practice, Rocky Mountain Audiology, at 56 Edwards Village Boulevard, suite 222 in Edwards. Call 970-926-6660 to learn more.

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