Leading health charities team up to fund research into hearing loss and dementia

TBH LP - Image 4

By Philip Tubby | Thursday 29 March 2018

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People has teamed up with Alzheimer’s Research UK to co-fund research that will increase our understanding of the common biological mechanisms underlying hearing loss and dementia.

The two charities are looking to fund two projects for up to three years to the tune of £160,000 each. They will support projects that will look to advance knowledge of any potential causal link between hearing loss and dementia, lead to the development of interventions that can delay or prevent the progression of both conditions, or prevent one condition from exacerbating the other.

Emerging evidence has shown that mild hearing loss is associated with a doubled risk of a person developing dementia, with moderate hearing loss linked to three times the risk, and severe hearing loss five times the risk. Hearing loss can be misdiagnosed as dementia, or make the symptoms of dementia appear worse.

Dr Ralph Holme, Executive Director of Research at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People explained:

“Little is understood about the exact nature of the link between dementia and hearing loss, and the processes underlying both conditions. It is important to investigate these processes in more detail, to determine how the conditions are linked and how they impact upon each other. More research is therefore needed to clarify whether proper diagnosis and management of hearing loss, including provision of hearing aids, may reduce the risk and impact of dementia and some of the other associated conditions, such as falls and depression. This will be important in developing interventions that can delay or prevent the progression of both dementia and hearing loss.”

Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK said:

“In the UK, over two-thirds of people over the age of 65 experience hearing loss. Research understanding the relationship between loss of hearing and dementia is at an early stage, but recent studies have suggested that hearing loss could be a potentially important risk factor for developing the condition. Pinning down the exact mechanisms underlying the link between hearing loss and development of memory problems is an area that warrants much further investigation. By working in partnership with Action for Hearing Loss we hope to add to our understanding of this important area by funding research investigating these links.”

Both charities receive no government funding for the research they fund and rely on the generosity of their supporters to be able to carry out their important work, including these interdisciplinary research projects.

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People is UK leading hearing loss charity. It funds research into hearing loss and tinnitus to speed up the discovery and development of new medical treatments to protect and restore hearing, improve diagnosis of hearing loss, improve medical devices for hearing, and silence tinnitus.

For more information about the Royal National Institute for Deaf People’s Biomedical Research programme, go to www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/biomedicalresearch

About the author

Philip Tubby