Feature Article

Hearing loss in adults – a common condition associated with cognitive decline

Melville da Cruz

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© pxsooz/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Abstract

Hearing loss is a common condition that greatly impacts a patient’s communication, mood and quality of life. The relationship between hearing loss and cognition is increasingly defined. New self-administered hearing tests are available for earlier detection of hearing loss. Hearing aids  are an effective treatment for mild-to-moderate hearing loss and surgical options may be available for patients with conductive hearing loss.

Key Points

  • Hearing loss is common in the community and increases with age. Mild-to-moderate hearing loss affects one in five adults by the age of 50 years.
  • Moderate-to-severe hearing loss has a measurable impact on quality of life, employability and, in the elderly, independent living and cognitive decline.
  • Hearing loss is best classified as conductive, sensory neural or mixed. This simple classification guides the clinical evaluation, range of available treatments and response to treatment.
  • Online and self-administered tests of hearing are useful for screening.
  • History, otoscopy and tuning fork tests allow most causes of hearing loss to be diagnosed, allowing a management plan to be formulated.

Figures

© pxsooz/STOCK.ADOBE.COM
© pxsooz/STOCK.ADOBE.COM