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Research Reveals Speech Hearing Difficulty in Loud Space may Provoke Risk of Dementia

Aug, 2021 - By WMR

Research Reveals Speech Hearing Difficulty in Loud Space may Provoke Risk of Dementia

Researchers conducted a study to understand the association between the risk of dementia and hearing difficulty of speech in a loud background, and observed that such hearing difficulty may lead to dementia in person’s senior years.

A new study demonstrated that an individual suffering from difficulty in hearing particular speeches in a noisy background could be an early-warning sign of later-life Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Usually, people with age-based hearing impairment experience this difficulty of hearing particular speeches in noisy environment. However, researchers from the University of Oxford conducted a new study that exhibits the association of this hearing difficulty with dementia in a large population. The researchers also aimed to investigate the possibility of reduction in risk of dementia, to be developed in a person’s further life, by immediately medicating their mid-life hearing impairments with effective treatments.

Sometimes it is challenging for people to filter out other voices and focus on a single speaker in a loud social environment. This effect is termed as the “cocktail party effect” and also referred as a speech-in-noise (SiN) hearing impairment. Thus, the research was set out to identify its association with dementia. The researchers carried out an experiment by recruiting 82,000 cognitively healthy subjects over the age of 60 around a decade ago. Subjects were asked to identify number of people who spoke in the background white-noise. This evaluated the SiN impairment among cohort. During the evaluation, they were categorised into three SiN groups that are poor, insufficient and normal.

Across the follow-up period of 11 years, the researchers detected 1,285 cases of dementia in the cohort. It was observed that those subjects in the poor SiN group and in the insufficient SiN group at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop dementia as compared to those with normal SiN results by 91% and 61% respectively. Though, research is still under observation. Researchers claimed that this sort of SiN impairment is an early-warning sign of dementia, however there are not definitive evidences to confirm whether hearing aids could reduce the risk of dementia.

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