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Does Tinnitus Increase Your Risk of Dementia?

While it can affect people of various ages, tinnitus is a prevalent ailment that can get worse with age. Studies indicate a connection between tinnitus and cognitive deterioration in later life.

The disease known as tinnitus is characterised by inexplicable buzzing, ringing, or roaring sounds. Others nearby cannot hear these noises because they are phantom and internal only.

Although tinnitus can occasionally afflict kids, adults are far more likely to experience it. The prevalence of this illness among adult Americans is thought to be between 10% and 25%. If tinnitus symptoms persist for more than three months, they may become chronic or come and go.

Certain health concerns may arise from severe and persistent tinnitus. These consist of exhaustion, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, an increasing body of evidence points to a potential connection between dementia and tinnitus.

Continue reading to discover the findings of the study regarding the connection between dementia and tinnitus.


Is tinnitus linked with dementia?

According to recent studies, having tinnitus may put you at risk for dementia. This is particularly true for dementia with early onset, or dementia that appears in the early to middle stages of adulthood.

Adult participants with pre-existing tinnitus had a 68% increased risk of developing early-onset dementia, according to a 2021 retrospective study. Adults under the age of 65 were included in this. This study was regarded as the first to identify a potential connection between these two disorders.

Early signs and symptoms of dementia

These results also imply that, although the risk of dementia rises with age, cognitive decline may occur in younger persons. The Alzheimer's Association lists the following 10 potential early indicators of dementia to watch out for:
  • increasing memory loss that makes it difficult to go about your everyday business
  • misplacing items
  • social withdrawal
  • spatial and visual difficulties
  • new issues with writing and talking
  • mood and personality changes
  • poor judgment
  • difficulty with problem-solving
  • problems with completing daily tasks
  • loss of place, dates, and time

Other potential causes of dementia

But dementia doesn't have a single cause, just like tinnitus. Dementia development may be influenced by genetic variations, underlying medical disorders, and lifestyle variables, including:
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • high blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • social isolation
  • chronic sleep problems
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • alcohol or tobacco use
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • head injuries
  • obesity

Is tinnitus associated with cognitive decline or other impairments?

Tinnitus is associated with cognitive deterioration in addition to dementia.

Adults over 60 showed a greater degree of tinnitus-related cognitive consequences, according to a more recent review and meta-analysis published in 2024. The following complications were observed by researchers:
  • poor sleep/insomnia
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • dementia
  • reduced auditory attention
Although the results of the previously cited 2021 study on cognitive deterioration in younger persons with tinnitus were verified by this review, the authors contend that older adults experience symptoms and problems that are far more severe.

But as another research analysis from 2023 points out, there is more to this complicated association than meets the eye between tinnitus and cognitive decline. Here, researchers contend that additional underlying disorders, such as vascular impairment (diseases affecting blood vessels and the brain) and auditory (hearing) impairments, may coexist.

As an older adult, tinnitus is recognised as a risk factor for hearing loss. This may exacerbate sadness and cognitive impairment and make it harder to engage in conversation with others.


How can you lower your chance of dementia or cognitive decline if you have tinnitus?

Treatment for tinnitus can lessen your chance of dementia and cognitive decline while also enhancing your quality of life.

Treatment options for tinnitus could consist of:
  • reducing exposure to loud sounds
  • wearing hearing aids
  • using stress-reduction methods, such as breathing exercises
  • using antidepressant or anti-anxiety drugs, which could improve your quality of sleep
  • undergoing sound therapy
  • undergoing behavioral therapy

Treating tinnitus-related hearing loss may also help older persons avoid social isolation. This represents an additional risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline.

Additionally, you can lower your risk of dementia by making good lifestyle choices. Think about discussing the following options with a physician:
  • begin an exercise program
  • eat a heart-healthy diet
  • maintain a moderate weight
  • lower or maintain your blood pressure
  • manage your blood glucose
  • sleep better
  • maintain an active social life

Takeaway

Further research is required to validate these findings, even as investigations into potential connections between tinnitus and dementia continue.

It is worthwhile to consult a physician about your potential risk of dementia or cognitive impairment in later life, nevertheless, if you have persistent tinnitus. Although there isn't a cure for tinnitus at this time, there are therapies that can lessen symptoms and enhance your quality of life.

Simultaneously, you might talk about methods to lower your total risk of dementia, like changing to a healthy lifestyle and taking care of any underlying health issues.

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