• Can hearing loss lead to cognitive decline?

    Did you know that leaving hearing loss untreated can increase the risk of dementia? That’s according to several studies over the years. In this article, we look at the key details in this research into hearing loss and dementia and explain why it is so important to have hearing loss tested and treated.

    Difficulty hearing speech risk factor for dementia – another new study published 

    Research has shown that assisting hearing difficulties in mid life could help a person maintain their brain function as they get older and might also reduce their risk of dementia. Published on 21st July, a new study led by University of Oxford researchers on over 82,000 participants has shown that difficulty hearing spoken conversations is associated with up to 91% increased risk of dementia. This study was featured on the Today programme. If anyone is interested in catching up on the story here is a link – skip forward to 2hrs55 mins (last 5 minutes of the show).

    The link between ageing, hearing loss and dementia

    In April 2019, the Ear Foundation, an independent charity based in Nottingham which supports people of all ages with hearing loss, unearthed some of the most compelling findings related to the link between hearing loss and dementia. It concluded that ageing had led to growing numbers of people with hearing loss and cognitive decline. It was found that some 60 per cent of adults who have dementia also experience hearing impairment. They also discovered that more than 90 per cent of adults with dementia who live in “aged care” also have a hearing impairment.

    The Ear Foundation highlighted that hearing loss has been linked to impaired communication and in turn, social isolation and loneliness, which can be health threatening. Their report underlined the importance of health systems to invest in tackling hearing loss, in order to help people maintain the “social connectedness” which can be so vital to brain health.

    A key factor

    While there does appear to be an undoubted link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, as a report in the Practical Neurology online journal pointed out: “It has not been proven that cognitive impairment (including dementia) is caused by hearing loss or that cognitive impairment causes hearing decline.”

    The publication highlighted several shared underlying mechanisms behind hearing loss and cognitive decline, which are; overdiagnosis, widespread neural degeneration, sensory degradation or deprivation, cognitive resource allocation and depletion, and social isolation and depression.

    Is hearing loss a crucial clue?

    Hearing aids could cut the risk of dementia

    Another thorough body of work was a study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the United States. Its research – conducted over a ten-year period – also supports the theory that hearing loss is associated with a larger risk of cognitive decline. The investigators suggested that “hearing loss may help identify individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline and might provide insights for earlier intervention and prevention,” making it clear that regular tests with an audiologist and the timely provision of hearing aids could be a way of cutting the risk of dementia.

    The value of a hearing aid

    In July 2019 the Times reported a study which concluded that wearing a hearing aid later in life could protect you against dementia, as well as slow brain ageing. The research found that people who wore hearing aids, primarily to address hearing issues, also saw their cognitive functions more effectively maintained. The impact measured was amazing – this study found that those who wore hearing aids had brains which performed eight years younger on average

    The raft of various studies has found that, at best, there is a huge potential for a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Now the onus is on health systems, as well as the public, to ensure that timely hearing tests are carried out as a matter of course.

    Hearing loss and cognitive decline – where to find out more

    The experts seem to agree that treating hearing loss provides protection against gradual cognitive decline. If you are beginning to find it difficult to hear in certain situations, don’t allow it to get worse, book an appointment for a hearing test and consultation with one of our audiologists. We provide comprehensive testing using state-of-the-art technology, personalised treatment and ongoing support.

    Read our article “What to expect at a hearing assessment” to find out what’s involved.

    Or please fill in our online contact form to book a hearing assessment.

  • Diabetes and hearing loss - what's the connection?

    The connection between diabetes and hearing loss

    Research has emerged in recent years which proves that hearing loss is more common in adults with diabetes. It has been found that if you have diabetes, you might be two times more likely to have hearing loss. At Help in Hearing we recommend that anyone with Diabetes should have regular hearing tests. 

    Why is diabetes linked to hearing loss?

    The precise reason why diabetes can be considered a risk factor for hearing loss is not yet known. There is a school of thought which believes that diabetes could damage the hearing nerves – a type of diabetic neuropathy which can also occur in the legs and feet. There is a second theory that the high blood sugars present in diabetics could cause damage to the small blood vessels which support the inner part of the ear. When these vessels are damaged, hearing can be compromised.

    Research by the NIH

    Research into diabetes and hearing loss

    One of the most important studies on diabetes and hearing loss was conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2008. They found one of the strongest links yet between diabetes and hearing loss. They analysed hearing test results from across the US and found that those with diabetes were more likely to have at least minor hearing loss compared to people who do not have the condition.

    Maternally inherited

    Another important piece of research showed that hearing loss can in fact be maternally inherited by some of those with diabetes. Some one per cent of those with diabetes have a subtype of the condition called Maternally Inherited Diabetes and Deafness (MIDD), which typically causes sensorineural hearing loss. MIDD usually develops in diabetes patients before the age of 40.

    I’m a diabetic. How can I prevent hearing loss?

    As a diabetic, you should note that the better you can control your blood sugar, the less likely it is that high blood sugar can cause hearing loss. That makes sticking to diet treatment plans and medication important for heating protection.

    Which steps do I need to take?

    Control blood sugar to help prevent hearing loss

    You might not have noticed a deterioration in your hearing, but if you have diabetes, it is recommended that you take a hearing test, if you haven’t already. These tests should be taken periodically – aim for once a year. It is important to monitor your hearing at regular intervals as a diabetic because it can deteriorate over a short space of time. Getting periodical tests makes it easier for you to get the treatment you need, when you need it, should you discover that your hearing is getting worse.

    When should you see a doctor?

    If you have already begun to experience hearing loss, it is important that you get it checked out as soon as you can. Your doctor may refer you to an audiologist, a health care professional who is a specialist in diagnosing and treating hearing loss. The sooner you address hearing loss, the sooner you can be advised and supplied with devices such as a hearing aid, which can allow you to maintain your quality of life.

    Diabetes and hearing loss – where to find out more

    If you think you might be affected by diabetes and hearing loss, please contact us to book an appointment. We recommend a half an hour appointment, which will include a hearing test plus the opportunity to discuss diabetic hearing screening with one of our audiologists. Call our freephone number to book with our special offer: 0345 2220579, email us or fill in our online contact form and we will get back to you to make the appointment.

  • Hearing loss myths debunked

    Hearing loss myths debunked

    Hearing loss can be devastating for anyone that experiences it, as well as their loved ones. However, hearing loss does not have to be as damaging to the quality of life as it once was, thanks to the many technological advancements that have been made. If you or someone you love is suffering from hearing loss, one of the best things you can do is get educated about it. With that in mind, read on to discover more about some of the common hearing loss myths.

    Hearing aids will make everything sound too loud

    Hearing aid technology in the current day and age is truly remarkable, and it is developing all of the time. Many people mistakenly believe that using a hearing aid will simply make noises sound louder, but this is not the case. In fact, this is the reason why people have a tendency to shout at people that have hearing problems. The truth is that volume is rarely the issue. Rather, it is about making sounds clearer so that the person can understand them better. Plus, hearing aids can be controlled based on what you are doing and where you are.

    I only have problems with certain sounds, so I don’t need hearing aid technology

    Can you hear some sounds clearly, yet you have difficulty with other sounds? The good news is that you do not have complete hearing loss, but you are certainly suffering from a hearing issue, which is why it is imperative to seek specialist advice.

    Tinnitus is a disease with no treatment

    Last but not least, tinnitus is not a disease. It is a condition that can happen due to exposure to loud noises and neurological damage. While it cannot be fully cured, treatments and management techniques are available. You need to see a specialist who will determine whether your case is mild, moderate, or severe, and they will then put together a bespoke plan, which can include hearing aids, earwax removal, medication and other techniques.

    Hearing loss myths – where to find out more

    Hopefully, you now have a better understanding regarding some of the most common myths about hearing loss. If you suspect you have hearing problems or you are looking for ways to improve your quality of life, Help In Hearing can assist. Get in touch online or call us on 0345 222 0579 for more information.

    Visit our hearing health section to learn more about hearing and hearing loss.


    Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash


  • Why do people avoid hearing tests?

    Why do people avoid hearing tests?

    We all do it. We all have something in our life that we put off for as long as possible. In talking to our clients, we’ve often heard them say that they’ve known there is an issue with their hearing for some time, but have put off doing something about it. So why do people avoid hearing tests?

    Why do people avoid hearing tests?

    For many, it all starts with the rush to do our homework on the school bus on the day it’s due to be handed in. And for others, it’s avoiding taking health tests until absolutely necessary. Procrastination could well be one of the reasons why you or a loved one is avoiding having their hearing tested. Life can be busy and it can seem hard to find the time to even make the appointment, let alone attend a consultation.

    Hearing loss is just a sign of ageing?

    Older people may be under the impression that impaired hearing is just a normal part of advanced age. So they decide not to “bother” anyone with it.

    Misplaced fears

    In all honesty, for some people it is easier to “side step” the issue because they fear the worst. It becomes preferable to ignore difficulties in hearing people speaking, ringing in your ears or the constant need to increase the TV or radio volume. Or possibly the thing holding you back is the misconception that hearing difficulties will lead to the “embarrassment” of having an obvious and inconvenient hearing aid. Maybe you are concerned about an elderly relative who is showing signs of tinnitus or hearing deficit, but you’re concerned that confronting them will cause upset and arguments.

    Worsening problems and their impact

    However, hearing health is not something you should take lightly. And delaying a hearing test could actually be making your problems worse. At the very least, your quality of life could be seriously eroded. If it is a gradual decline, you may not even be fully aware of just how much you are missing out on. It could be that you’ve started turning down social engagements, and you have become more insular and lacking in confidence. Or, you feel depressed and frustrated.

    One call for improved hearing

    Yet all of the above can be soothed away with a visit to an understanding and approachable independent audiologist. An appointment can be made that fits with your lifestyle and schedule. Your audiologist can test you, and talk you through the options in a calm and clear way. Whatever action is required can be arranged seamlessly. It all leads to a huge sense of relief and most likely an improvement in your quality of life.

    So why wait? Contact us today.

    Hearing tests – where to find out more

    To talk to us about hearing tests or to book an appointment, please get in touch or complete our hearing test request form.

    Find out what to expect from a hearing assessment with Help in Hearing.

  • Face the hearing-impaired person directly

    Signs You May Need a Hearing Test

    It is a fact that most hearing impaired people, who gradually lose their hearing, wait between 10 and 15 years to address the problem, usually egged on by a partner or close friend, who have become increasingly exasperated and frustrated with the television being too loud getting no response to their questions. This article looks at some signs you may need a hearing test, and what you can do about it.

    It’s also often thought that hearing loss only affects the elderly, yet more and more, it is happening to young people as well. Hearing loss among the young is most commonly talked about when it comes to personal music players and loud music. Being exposed to loud sounds on a regular basis is bad for your hearing (high frequency sounds are particularly damaging, so it’s worth getting good-quality headphones that pick up on bass well). It’s generally viewed as wise by audiologists to lower your music volume, but there are other potential causes for hearing difficulties, from wax build-up (known as cerumen impaction) to genetic factors. 

    Signs of hearing loss

    So what are the signs of possible hearing loss – and what should you do about it? We’ve compiled a list of nine signs, if you have any of these, you should have a hearing test to establish if there is permanent damage and what is the best way to address it.

    You keep asking people to repeat themselves

    If your new favourite word is “Sorry?”, you may have hearing loss. This can be embarrassing or irritating for both you and the speaker, who may have to keep repeating what they’ve said.

    You can’t hear well in crowded environments

    Noisy Restaurant

    Do you find it difficult to keep track of conversations at parties, or in crowded cafes or restaurants? Maybe you think your hearing is fine because you can hear perfectly well in a quiet room, but if you’re in an environment where there are lots of other noises and interference, a poorly functioning ear will find it harder to sort out and understand information.

    You keep turning up the volume

    Turning up the volume

    If your partner keeps complaining that the TV is too loud, this may be a sign that you’ve lost “normal” perceptions of sound and volume. Or if you put the subtitles on all the programmes while you’re watching TV because you don’t catch all the information.

    Ringing in the ears


    Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is what we all experience after exposure to particularly loud noises (rock concerts are notorious causers of tinnitus). You might not experience this as ringing, it might be a buzzing, hissing, or other sound that relates to the malfunction of the inner ear. Tinnitus of any kind is considered as a warning sign of potential damage to the hearing mechanism. Tinnitus occurs when the brain becomes hyper-aware of the fact that it’s not picking up on enough sound on certain frequencies. If it continues way after the original loud noise or doesn’t seem to be connected to any event in particular, you should get it checked.

    Even if your ears aren’t ringing, if you regularly work or play in loud places you should be getting checked regularly. Exposure to loud volume noises is a common cause of hearing loss, so better safe than sorry.

    You don’t know what direction sounds are coming from

    Asking people to repeat themselves

    One of the signs of hearing loss is the inability to pinpoint where sounds are coming from, particularly in crowded places. It may seem strange to hear a noise apparently coming from nowhere in particular when everyone else assures you it’s the front door or your phone, but it’s part of having limited hearing.

    You have difficulty hearing women or children

    If you’ve lost hearing in a particular frequency, you may find it particularly difficult to hear women and children, who naturally speak at a higher frequency than many men. This could be part of normal age-related hearing loss, where higher frequencies are often the first to go (a phenomenon known as presbycusis), and it should be checked and corrected sooner rather than later.

    You’ve had an ear infection or ear wax build-up

    If you’ve had an ear infection, or repeated ones, your GP might have told you to have a hearing test to make sure the infections haven’t damaged your inner ear. If you go for a hearing test, let the audiologist know if you’ve had an infection previously, so they have all the facts.

    You also need to pay attention to your earwax. If you have a history of earwax blockage, or notice that your inner ear is itchy or that wax keeps draining out of it, you may become aware of a hearing loss which can be easily corrected.

    You’re experiencing vertigo (dizziness)


    The inner ear is responsible for balance, which means that unexplained vertigo or dizziness is another sign that something may have gone wrong in your ears. If you experience dizziness when you’re sitting still on level ground or for no reason, an ear check would be wise.

    You feel stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying

    Exhausted and stressed out trying to hear

    This is an interesting emotional consequence: hearing specialists report that people who’ve started losing their hearing but don’t realise it often find themselves tired after conversations, because they’ve had to work so hard to hear what’s being said. This constant strain may make you irritable with other people, having to ask them to speak more clearly, yet defiantly insist everybody’s mumbling on purpose, making you feel upset about being left out.

    If that’s your experience, please see an audiologist and have your hearing checked.

    At Help in Hearing we carry out hearing tests in a friendly and comfortable environment using the latest testing equipment. Hearing tests require concentration but are not painful. We will discuss your lifestyle and medical history related to your ears and hearing in depth.

    Contact us if you would like to arrange an appointment.

  • Signs of hearing loss

    How do I know if I have hearing loss?

    Signs of Hearing Loss

    The signs of hearing loss can be subtle and emerge slowly, or they can be significant and come on suddenly. Either way, there are common indications. You should suspect hearing loss if you experience any of the signs below.

    You might have hearing loss if you . . .


    • require frequent repetition.
    • have difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people.
    • think that other people sound muffled or like they’re mumbling.
    • have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms.
    • have trouble hearing children and women.
    • have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume.
    • answer or respond inappropriately in conversations.
    • have ringing in your ears.
    • read lips or more intently watch people’s faces when they speak with you.


    • feel stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying.
    • feel annoyed at other people because you can’t hear or understand them.
    • feel embarrassed to meet new people or from misunderstanding what others are saying.
    • feel nervous about trying to hear and understand.
    • withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing.


    • have a family history of hearing loss.
    • take medications that can harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs).
    • have diabetes, heart, circulation or thyroid problems.
    • have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period or single exposure to explosive noise.

    Signs of hearing loss – what to do next

    If you think you may have hearing loss, please get in touch with us to book a confidential hearing test where we will assess your hearing levels and recommend the most appropriate course of action.