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hearing loss and visual changes early signs of dementia
Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2019 11:37 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

I did not know I had lost peripheral vision for years - which cause me to see oncoming traffic as all going straight into the car I was riding in. You can test yourself by looking straight ahead and having your outstretched hands move inward from your sides. I also lost night vision which means now makes seeing indoors in evening harder to navigate rooms. Article below suggests these changes may tire our brains leading to cognitive loss.

My hearing loss started years ago, was tested but don't remember why there was no follow up or hearing aid suggestions. The worst part is being avoided because I ask, "what did you say?" and then being yelled at makes me stop responding. Feels like being shunned.

Anyone else have visual or hearing loss? Anyone find something helps?

...might hearing loss contribute to cognitive problems and dementia? Lin suggests four possibilities. The most obvious is a common physiological pathway that contributes to both hearing loss and cognitive decline — something like high blood pressure, for instance.

Another possibility has to do with what researchers refer to as "cognitive load" — essentially, that the effort of constantly straining to understand stresses the brain. This one makes intuitive sense.

"If you put in a lot of effort just to comprehend what you're hearing, it takes resources that would otherwise be available for encoding [what you hear] in memory," says Arthur Wingfield, professor of neuroscience at Brandeis University. Research in Wingfield's lab has documented this effect on a short-term basis. The big question, he says, is whether years of drawing resources away from brain functions such as working memory will eventually reduce the brain's resilience.

M. Kathleen Pichora-Fuller, a psychologist from the University of Toronto, is conducting research to test the hypothesis that treating hearing loss in those with dementia will help to optimize communication, with positive effects on everyday well-being for the patient and caregivers. "I have no doubt that if a CI [cochlear implant] makes it easier for a person to listen, then they will be able to spend more of their power to do other cognitively demanding tasks."

A third factor, Wingfield and Lin suggest, is that hearing loss may affect brain structure in a way that contributes to cognitive problems. Brain imaging studies, Wingfield says, show that older adults with hearing loss have less gray matter in the part of their brain that receives and processes sounds from the ears. "It's not necessarily that you're losing brain cells," he adds. Certain structures of brain cells can shrink when they don't get enough stimulation. This raises the question, Wingfield says, whether getting clearer speech signals to the brain through use of a modern hearing aid might allow these brain structures to recover their previous size and function.

Finally, it seems very likely that social isolation plays a part. Being hard of hearing tends to isolate people from others: When you have to struggle to converse, you're less likely to want to socialize in groups or go out to restaurants. And being socially isolated has long been recognized as a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia.


Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2019 11:47 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

New Research Links Alzheimer’s and Hearing Loss

Over the past few years, researchers at Johns Hopkins have done studies looking at how hearing loss may influence cognitive decline. In each case, they met with a number of seniors over several years and tracked which ones developed Alzheimer’s and how quickly the disease progressed. In each study, the people with hearing loss had higher rates of dementia.

In one study, people with hearing loss were 24% more likely to have Alzheimer’s. In another, they found that the worse the hearing loss was, the more likely the person was to develop dementia.

These studies don’t suggest that hearing loss itself causes dementia, but it does show that there’s a link between the two. The researchers have a few theories on why that might be:

  1. Change in brain function: The particular part of your brain in charge of hearing and processing auditory information may simply start to work differently when the hearing part of that equation goes away (or becomes strained), causing a change to how your brain is structured, which could be related to the effects of Alzheimer’s.
  2. Cognitive load: When you can’t hear well, you have to work a lot harder to make sense of what people are saying. Every conversation you participate in requires more mental energy and work. If your everyday conversations are taking up most of the mental energy you have, then there’s less left for you to put toward memory or other cognitive functions.
  3. Social isolation: We know that social isolation can have some very serious effects on both physical and mental health. When it’s hard to hear, it becomes harder to maintain social connections, which can lead to feeling alienated and experiencing all the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness.
  4. They share a cause: The researchers behind the study are confident they managed to control this, but concede there is some possibility Alzheimer’s and hearing loss may both be caused by some third health issue that people who experienced both in the study shared.

Though we don’t know if the relationship between Alzheimer’s and hearing loss is due to one of these things or some combination of them, but simply knowing the relationship exists is a step toward being able to do something about it.

What This Means for People With Alzheimer’s

First off, it’s important to note that having hearing loss doesn’t mean is going to develop Alzheimer’s. ... the link does suggest to us that if we can do something to minimize hearing loss, there’s a decent chance that we can also minimize the likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s or the severity of it if someone does get it.

In fact, there’s an additional study that bears this theory out. Researchers at a hospital in Paris provided a number of people with deafness in at least one ear with a cochlear implant and tracked their cognitive performance before and after receiving the implant along with auditory rehabilitation. 80% of the people studied showed cognitive improvement within a year. For comparison, those are better results by nearly double than any FDA-approved drugs for treating dementia.

Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2019 11:59 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

There are three primary reasons that hearing loss might lead to dementia. Some or all of these factors contribute to why a hard-of-hearing person might develop Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia later in life.

Cognitive load. The basic idea behind cognitive load is that the loss of a sense contributes to neurological stress. Because the brain is straining to understand what’s happening around the person, it overworks itself and takes resources away from other functions – such as memory. After years of disuse, these areas of the brain begin to decline.

Neurological restructuring. The brain is a highly adaptable organ. When it encounters problems, it changes itself to solve those problems. For example, when someone begins losing a sense, the brain reorganizes. The part that handles hearing is diminished, and the brain begins drawing resources from other areas. Similar to cognitive load, this results in a heightened risk of dementia.

Social isolation. When people lack hearing, they have trouble communicating. ...This lack of communication can cause language and memory skills to decline, and result in other mental health issues like depression. Studies show that depression also negatively impacts the brain, heightening the risk of dementia.

Lane Simonian
Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 10:12 AM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 5108

There is one more aspect to this: the role of oxidation in hearing and vision loss.  Certain conditions such as tinnitus, macular degeneration, and glaucoma are tied to the formation of peroxynitrite and peroxynitrite scavengers are part (or can be a part) of the treatment of each. 

Tinnitus: CBD and diluted essential oils (case studies, but no clinical trials)

Dry Eye Macular Degeneration: AREDS Vitamins

Glaucoma: Cannabidiol and THC

Somewhat more broadly:

In a recent study, we could show that the administration of peroxynitrite scavengers and antioxidative drugs (MnTBAP and N-acetyl-L-cystein) reduces meningitis-associated hearing loss and its histopathologic correlates.

Peroxynitrite also plays a critical role in Alzheimer's disease, and it is possible that some of the antioxidants mentioned above can slow down or partially reverse some of the damage caused by peroxynitrite in Alzheimer's disease.

Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2019 11:05 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

thanks Lane!

read that untreated hearing loss drains cognitive resources, and the brain parts that translate spoken words shrinks over time.

there were early signs of ALZ that weren't recognized in me because most people consider ALZ solely "memory loss" and don't understand it is much more than that, which I believe is why we don't have a good treatment yet other than what we provide ourselves through diet exercise sleep etc.

I also read about glucose role, I remember my Dad who never ate sweets was ravenous for them. Not sure if wanting sweets is same as low glucose.

You know the idea we lose memories is something I can't accept because people at end of life can have days when they are able to speak again and demonstrate they haven't forgotten much of anything. Also taking CBD (not the drugstore stuff) and recovering ability to do certain things proves I have not become UNABLE but am out of fuel or some connection switch is flipped back on.

question all mainstream views of ALZ!

love and courage

Lane Simonian
Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2019 11:39 PM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 5108

I think that there are probably multiple potential "precursor" conditions that are potential signs of impending Alzheimer's such as type 2 diabetes, post-traumatic stress disorder, various autoimmune diseases, damage to the gut, depression, hearing loss, vision loss, and loss of smell. 

As the disease progresses, there is a problem of glucose transport in the brain.  Not sure if this is connected to a desire for sweets, but it might be.  

The research seems to be moving in the direction that certain types of memory are not lost in Alzheimer's disease, they simply cannot be retrieved.  The challenge is to find a way to help retrieve them, and certain plant based compounds such as THC, cannabidiol, and terpenes in CBD oil may be part of the answer.  Plus these compounds may help improve the transport of glucose in the brain.

Michael Ellenbogen
Posted: Friday, May 31, 2019 5:38 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 4324

Get a hearing test. I hope you do not have what I have. I hear okay but I just have trouble to register or process the information I hear. I need to hear it multiple times if I really try hard to understand it. I know it is very frustrating. Its only been getting worse. 

Posted: Friday, May 31, 2019 9:50 AM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 20920

Agree with seeing an ENT.. that is important
Posted: Friday, May 31, 2019 1:54 PM
Joined: 1/28/2013
Posts: 2659

My DS is having trouble understanding spoken lines on TV.  Hearing seems to be okay, but deciphering the rapidly spoken sounds is difficult.  Even rewinding and listening more carefully often doesn't help.  People today do tend to speak more rapidly and fail to enunciate clearly (said every older person from back in the cave days) but it may also be a slowing of our co-processors due to aging.  A primary physician suggested my mother get hearing aids, but I knew she would immediately reject them, and her hearing was still acute enough to hear me tiptoing past her door.  I knew it was a brain thing rather than an ear thing.

To give my DS credit, I sometimes have to listen through several rewinds before I understand what was said, and often it is from context rather than hearing every word.

King Boo
Posted: Friday, May 31, 2019 5:06 PM
Joined: 1/9/2012
Posts: 3626

Hi alz+,

Here is a link to the American Academy of Audiology.  There is a search function to find an audiologist, the best professional for the diagnosis of hearing loss and fitting of hearing aids:

An audiologist has at least a Master's degree, many a clinical doctorate (AuD).  Their expertise is a complete evaluation, which will determine if it is in the nerve, or if it is medically treatable (i.e. ear wax, an infection, etc).  An Audiologist will refer to an ENT for medical management if needed, but 95% of hearing loss due to aging is in the nerve and nothing can be done to fix it.  Appropriately fit hearing aids by an audiologist can make a big difference in the quality of life.

ENT's know nothing about the specifics of hearing aids.

Other people may sell hearing aids legally, but may have little to no training as hearing aid dealers or fitters.   Look for the M.A, M.S. or AuD designator. Word is Audiologist.  Not hearing instrument specialist, not audioprosthologist, or just a bunch of fancy letters. Beware Big Box stores.

A hearing aid without the appropriate professional to fit it is just an expensive paperweight.

Good luck.