Archive for July, 2019
More and more studies are showing that older adults who have a loss of hearing are at increased risk of developing dementia, and/or Alzheimer disease. Studies also show that the risk for developing dementia increases significantly as hearing loss becomes worse. Several studies have been conducted with the express intention of exploring potential solutions for the soaring incidence of dementia, with estimates now predicting that more than 100 million people will be affected globally, when the year 2050 is reached.
Researchers claim that any kind of interventions which would have the effect of deferring the onset of dementia by as little as a single year, could lead to at least a 10% decrease in the widespread occurrence of the disease over the next four decades. The problem with that is that a great deal more research is necessary before those potential interventions can be identified, since at present, there is very little evidence that interventions can be beneficial in this area.
The reason that the concept of interventions is so appealing to medical personnel is because of the universal understanding that dementia would be far easier to prevent than it is to cure or reverse. It is known that people are more likely to develop dementia when they have relatively little participation in leisure activities or any kind of social interactions.
Other risk factors for developing dementia occur in people who are relatively sedentary, or those who develop diabetes mellitus. It’s also known that one of the most prevalent reasons for elderly people not participating in social events and activities is that they have experienced some level of hearing loss, and are reluctant to become involved, because of the potential for embarrassment.
Testing for Hearing Loss
Given the fact that hearing loss is one of the precursors to social disengagement, and that social disengagement is a precursor to dementia, researchers have considered it very important to explore the causes of hearing loss. A landmark study conducted by Dr. Frank R Lin of Johns Hopkins Medical Institution has examined the effects of hearing loss on almost 700 people aged between 36 and 90, none of whom had dementia when the study began.
Participants were all required to undergo cognitive and hearing tests for approximately five years beginning in 1990, and were re-tested in the year 2008 for the possibility of having developed dementia or Alzheimer’s. Of all the participants in the program, almost 200 had some level of hearing loss when the study began.
When participants were re-tested more than a decade later, 58 of them had full-blown dementia, including 37 who had Alzheimer’s disease. The precise statistics taken during the study indicated that the risk for dementia increased significantly for participants who had at least a 25 dB hearing loss, and the dementia risk escalated right along with the level of hearing loss. In effect, those participants who had the worst level of hearing loss were also those most likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
Particularly for the study participants who were older than 60, there was a 37% risk of developing dementia which was linked to hearing loss. A strong correlation was found between the level of hearing loss and the likelihood of diagnosing dementia in these older citizens, and it was found that for every 10 dB more of hearing loss, the increased risk of developing dementia went up by 20%.
The Link between Dementia and Hearing Loss
The clear association between hearing loss and dementia found in this study and others conducted afterward, show that there is at least a possibility there is a common cause which underlies both conditions. Some scientists and medical personnel theorize that the link between the two stems from the fact that the more profound hearing loss is in an individual, the more likely that individual is to avoid social interaction.
When social interaction is avoided to a significant degree, and borders on isolation, the risk factors for developing dementia rise dramatically. This has led scientists to consider the possibility of experimenting with an intervention to improve the hearing of senior citizens at the earliest stage possible, so that no further damage occurs to hearing, and so hearing loss does not worsen.
There will undoubtedly be studies in the near future which explore the connection between a hearing loss intervention and the possible reduced risk of developing dementia. It’s entirely possible that by early detection of hearing problems in seniors, and taking aggressive corrective measures, the risk of developing dementia can be significantly reduced.
This is a tantalizing proposition, because hearing loss in most cases is a very preventable condition, and it can be effectively addressed using modern technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. Rehabilitative interventions might also be implemented which would create social environments that are optimal for better hearing, so that seniors would have few reservations about participating.
If this theory is found to have relevance and accuracy, it may represent one of the very best ways of intervening to reduce the runaway development of dementia in the elderly. At present however, this must remain in the realm of conjecture and theory, and it will be necessary for scientific study and research to establish the accuracy of the theory.
At the end of every spring time, as school ends and the prospect of summer starts appealing to youngsters, families begin to make plans for going to camp, having fun at the local beach, and possibly even planning a nice family vacation. However, for children who have to deal with tonsils that have become enlarged, or persistent bouts of tonsillitis, those pleasant thoughts may be far removed from their thinking.
Instead, youngsters bothered by tonsil problems may have to face the prospect of having a tonsillectomy performed, given the fact that recovery from the procedure takes between 10 and 14 days, and that it calls for specific planning.
What are your tonsils?
Tonsils are those twin masses of tissue which are situated at the back of the throat, and which are part of the lymphatic system. As such, the tonsils produce white blood cells which are involved in the fighting of diseases and other undesirable intrusions of the body. They could be called upon to fight infections, or to defend against viruses and bacteria which gain entrance to the body via the mouth.
The time of life when tonsils are most actively involved as components of the immune system, is just prior to puberty, which means they are more vulnerable to infection at that time. For that reason, tonsillectomies are far more commonly performed on younger children than on teens or young adults.
What causes enlarged tonsils?
In some cases, young children develop large tonsils and adenoids without having any specific cause, and which are not associated with any other kind of problem. In cases like these, tonsils don’t usually become enlarged to the point where they cause uncomfortable symptoms for the child.
However, in situations where the enlarged tonsils are due to an infection, a virus, or seasonal allergies, it is more likely that tonsils will become enlarged and cause problems for the child. It’s very possible for youngsters to be exposed to bacterial or viral infections at daycare centers, at pre-school gatherings, or in the early grades of elementary school.
In many cases, once the cause of the enlarged tonsils fades away, so does the swelling of the tonsils, and everything goes back to a relatively normal state. However, there are times when complications can result from enlarged tonsils, most notably imparting a very stuffy sounding quality to a child, much like having a cold or the flu.
This is often noticeable in children who are breathing through their mouths rather than through their noses as normal. In more severe cases, enlarged tonsils can lead to chronic ear infections, with the potential for some degree of hearing loss. It can also cause chronic sinusitis, which is a recurring version of sinus infections, as well as obstructive sleep apnea.
Finally, children bothered by enlarged tonsils and some of the other symptoms resulting from them, may experience either weight loss or inability to gain weight, because their eating habits have been impacted.
What is involved in a tonsillectomy?
A tonsillectomy is defined as the process of surgically removing tonsils, for whatever reason is deemed justifiable. One of the most common reasons for performing a tonsillectomy is that inflammation of the tonsils has been occurring on a persistent basis in an individual, quite often with those occurrences of tonsillitis coming closer and closer together.
It’s also possible that tonsillectomy is indicated for cases when it is known that the tonsils are bleeding, and this bleeding is difficult to stop. One last situation where tonsillectomy is the preferred option is when an infection occurs in the tonsils, and that infection does not respond appropriately to antibiotics.
When an infection cannot be brought under control using antibiotics, there are a few other alternatives which can be pursued, because the infected tonsils cannot be allowed to remain in place, where they can cause further damage in the body.
What are enlarged tonsils?
It’s very possible for tonsils to become enlarged when they frequently become infected. When that happens, there are generally symptoms which are present that cannot be left untreated. Younger children who are experiencing enlarged tonsils will often have difficulty breathing and swallowing, they may have unusual snoring during sleep, they may have to breathe through their mouths rather than through their noses, and there is very often a disruption to sleep patterns which can cause persistent fatigue and the child. When this kind of disrupted sleep persists, it can very often lead to crankiness, daytime sleepiness, and stretches of hyperactivity in the individual.
What kind of surgeries can be used on tonsils?
If an individual is experiencing extremely negative side effects from enlarged tonsils, or if recurring tonsillitis is bothering the individual, surgery may be the only practical alternative for restoring good health. In these situations, it will generally be necessary to completely remove the tonsils as well as the adenoids, in order to restore normalcy.
The surgery is not a difficult procedure, and it can be done on an outpatient basis right in your doctor’s office. There are seldom any complications associated with the procedure, and recovery time after surgery is generally only a matter of a few days.