New review of scientific knowledge on hearing loss and dementia


Hearing impairment and dementia
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Further to emerging evidence that impaired hearing is a risk factor for cognitive decline, researchers from University College London, UK have looked at the intersection of dementia and hearing impairment in the auditory brain, on the basis of a review of available data.

The team of researchers outlined a clinically oriented, symptom-based approach to hearing in dementia in the results of their open-access review published in early July in the Journal of Neurology.

They first reviewed the neuropsychology of hearing with a focus on the core operations in auditory cognition, the clinical and social burden of dementia – highlighting that the United Kingdom alone has an estimated 800,000 people currently with dementia, and the association between hearing loss and dementia. This third part of the review looked at epidemiology, the role of peripheral hearing and of central auditory processing, syndromes of dementia and hearing loss, symptoms of altered auditory cognition in dementia, and aspects related to impaired perception.

In their practical approach to the care of patients with dementia and altered hearing, presented in the final part of the article, the authors mention the auditory history in patients with cognitive impairment (background, course, symptoms, sound detection, and perception), clinical assessment of hearing function, investigations (including pure tone audiometry and otoacoustic emissions), and lastly management, focusing on correction of reversible hearing deficits with, for example hearing aids, other assistive listening devices, as well as environmental modification strategies.

Source: Hardy CJ, et al. Hearing and dementia. Journal of Neurology, 2016 Jul 2.