September is World Alzheimer's Month

September is World Alzheimer’s Month

In Dementia & Alzheimer's Disease by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Jennifer G. Mayer purchased South Shore Hearing Center in January 2016. She was born and raised in Swampscott, MA. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing in 1996 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and her Master’s degree in audiology from the Northeastern University in 1998. Dr. Mayer fulfilled her Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) in 1999 at Hear USA and Cape Cod Ear, Nose and Throat.
Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

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September is dedicated to World Alzheimer’s Month, which means in this month, people take the time out to learn about and to raise awareness regarding this condition that affects nearly 500,000 people every year in the United States of America alone. It is also estimated that every 3 seconds someone in the world develops dementia. With this level of spread, it is important to raise awareness regarding the condition, and today we will be talking about one of the newly discovered causes of developing Alzheimer’s. But before we dive into that, let us learn a little bit about what sort of conditions this and Alzheimer’s are.

Dementia

While dementia itself is not a condition, it is a term that encapsulates several different conditions within itself. All of the conditions that can be placed under the umbrella of this term are usually associated with a decline in mental or cognitive abilities that is so severe that it will interfere with regular life activities.

There used to a false belief among the general population that developing the problem is a natural part of advancing in age; however, it has now proven to be a condition that is not necessarily associated with age.

Symptoms

Its symptoms are usually related to memory. People will have difficulties with short term memory. They will have trouble keeping track of the whereabouts of their possessions such as their wallets and keys, etc. Communication and language are also affected. A person may have trouble finding the correct words to express themselves or have trouble forming coherent sentences. It can also affect the ability to focus and pay attention to a single task. Distractions might be prevalent upon such people. The ability to reason and ability to make a decent judgment in any scenario can also be affected, and lastly, it can also interfere with the visual perceptions of the person.

Causes

The causes of all the conditions that are gathered under the umbrella of this term are similar. To put simply, they are caused by damage to the brain cells. Brain cells need to communicate with one another for the brain and hence the human to function in a healthy manner. When these cells are damaged, the communication is hampered, and the thinking, behavior, and other functions of the brain are affected.

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the individual experiencing difficulties with the normal functioning of their memory, thinking patterns, and behavior. Alzheimer’s develops slowly but becomes progressively worse over time until the point that it is worse enough to interfere with normal everyday functioning. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for roughly 60% to 80% of the cases of dementia.

The common belief is that Alzheimer’s is a natural aspect of growing old, but it is neither natural nor does it only affect the elders among us. There are a great number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease under the age of 65.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

The most common and easily recognizable sign that points in the direction of Alzheimer’s disease is difficulty in registering and remembering information that you have recently learned. This is because Alzheimer’s begins in the region of the brain that is associated with learning. As it progresses to other parts of the brain, it causes more severe symptoms such as effects on the mood and surprising changes in behavior. Disorientation and confusion regarding events, times, and places are also seen as Alzheimer’s progresses. In the very worse stages of the conditions, the individual can even find difficulty in the most basic human tasks such as walking, speaking, and swallowing.

Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease can be developed in the brain due to various reasons. These reasons can involve a genetic transfer of the disease; however, this is a rare occurrence. The type of lifestyle that one is leading can have a great effect on their brain’s health and hence on their possibility of developing Alzheimer’s. The environment of an individual will affect the possibility of them developing various diseases, and Alzheimer’s is one of them. Scientists have said that for most people, the cause of developing Alzheimer’s is a combination of all these factors.

Hearing loss and Dementia

While most commonly known causes of Alzheimer’s have been mentioned above, recent studies have shown that a lesser-known and lesser addressed the cause for the condition is hearing loss. Recent studies have shown that people who suffer from hearing loss are much more likely to experience a decline in their cognitive abilities. So how might hearing loss and dementia or to be specific Alzheimer’s disease and hearing loss be connected? Here are some of the reasons.

  1. Cognitive Overloading

One of the reasons that is being suggested as to how hearing loss and dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and hearing loss is connected is that when a person suffers from poor hearing, they continuously stress their brain with extra effort to understand their surroundings. This naturally overloads the brain and leads to brain cells being pushed to their limits and potentially damaged.

  1. Brain structures

Some experts have deduced that hearing problems can affect the structure of the brain in such a way as to prompt a decline in cognitive abilities. Studies have shown that when a part of a brain doesn’t receive enough stimulation, that part of the brain can actually shrink and hence compromise the structure of the brain. This would explain the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and hearing loss.

  1. Social isolation

Another possible connection between the decline in cognitive ability and hearing problems is social isolation. If anyone would have difficulty in comprehending what people around them are saying they are less likely to want to be in a social situation. Hence such people are likely to be socially isolated, and social isolation has been known to contribute to cognitive decline quite heavily.

How treating hearing problems can help

As one can tell from the above-mentioned factors, treating problems related to hearing is absolutely crucial and can result in various benefits. Addressing hearing problems through treatment such as hearing aids and cochlear implants can reduce the risk of overstressing your brain. It will allow your brain to experience audio stimulation and remain healthy functioning in that particular area. It will also help you overcome the hesitation of placing yourself in a social situation due to your difficulty in hearing. When you will be able to hear properly, you will want to participate in social activities which provide excellent cognitive stimulus, and hence this will contribute to your overall mental health.

South Shore Hearing Center

Research is continuing in the connection between hearing problems and cognitive decline, but so far it is evident that the two are very much connected and timely addressing problems with hearing can prevent many greater issues and lead to various benefits. Hence if you are struggling with hearing issues, then it is important to seek a hearing test. Contact us at South Shore Hearing Center today!