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hearing loss

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OTC Hearing Aids May Be Coming Soon

OTC assistive hearing devices may provide real help to the hearing impaired soon.

Currently in the U.S. hearing aids can only be purchased through a licensed hearing specialist. This can place a hardship on those on limited incomes. With growing evidence that adequate hearing is essential to maintaining cognitive performance, recent tightly controlled research has shown several over-the-counter personal hearing assistance devices performed nearly as well as conventional hearing aids costing thousands more! New regulatory classifications are being considered.

PositiveTip: If you find yourself avoiding conversations because you cannot hear well--you should to seek professional hearing advice.

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Hearing Loss First, then Dementia?

The worse the hearing loss, the greater the risk of developing dementia.

Researchers with the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging have found a strong association between hearing loss and dementia. When compared to individuals with normal hearing, those with mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss had, respectively, a 2, 3, and 5 fold, increased risk of developing dementia over the 18 year study. This correlation held true even when age, diabetes, hypertension, and other confounders were ruled out.

PositiveTip: Have your hearing tested by an audiologist, and if needed, wear hearing aids to hear better and to protect your brain.

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Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

Hearing loss may predict cognitive delcline in the elderly.

An observational study has found that hearing loss may predict increased cognitive decline in older adults. During six years of follow-up researchers found a 24% higher risk of cognitive deficit in those with hearing loss compared to those with normal hearing. Much more research is needed to understand the mechanisms behind these findings, and whether improving hearing (with hearing aids) would reduce cognitive loss.

PositiveTip: Good hearing hygiene, such as using ear plugs or hearing protecting ear muffs in loud, noisy environments, can help prevent hearing loss.

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Secondhand Smoke Associated With Hearing Impairment

Adolescence and adult exposure to secondhand smoke increases risk of hearing impairment

Second hand smoke (SHS) associated hearing losses of 15 dB or greater in adolescence is found to be proportional to the level of exposure. In adult former smokers SHS exposure risk, of at least a 25dB impairment, increased 30% and 40% for low/mid and high frequencies, respectively. Never smokers hearing impairment risk increased by 14% for low/mid frequencies.

PositiveTip:  Avoid smoking and second had smoke to prevent tobacco smoke related hearing problems.