Hearing loss could be the earliest possible sign that a person has a high risk of suffering from dementia later in life, a new study published in the Archives of Neurology reveals.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University observed 639 people between ages of 36 to 90 years over an average period of 12 years. All of the volunteers did not suffer from any kind of dementia at the start of the study.
Around 125 people suffered from mild hearing loss during the study period while 53 had moderate hearing loss with six of them suffering from severe hearing loss. At the end of the 12 year period, around 58 people were diagnosed with dementia which included 37 people who were suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers found that for people over 60 years of age, nearly 37 percent of those with high risk of dementia suffered from hearing loss while a loss of 10 decibels increased the risk of Alzheimer's by a further 20 percent.
Lead researcher Dr Frank Lin said that while hearing loss does not always lead to dementia, it did increase the risk later on in life. "Does it mean you will develop dementia if your hearing is impaired? Absolutely not! But is your risk increased? You betcha", he said.