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Can early hearing loss intervention help stave off dementia?

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A doctor fits a man for his new hearing aid.
Dr. Mark Little, Chief, the Eisenhower Army Medical Center Audiology clinic, fits Terry Russell, a former U.S. Marine and Dublin VA patient, for his new hearing aid as part of the GeorgiaLina Federal Healthcare Executive Council cooperation at the audiology Clinic in Fort Gordon, Ga., in August 2014.
Wesley P Elliott via U.S. Army 2014

Nearly 16 percent of American adults report some trouble hearing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And as people’s hearing gets worse, it can lead to isolation and loneliness — and sometimes severe health problems associated with those issues.

“One of the theories is that if people are lonely, they have stress. If they have stress they produce more inflammatory stress chemicals,” said Dr. Jon Hallberg, medical director of the University of Minnesota Physician’s Mill City Clinic. “That can cause inflammation in different organs, including the brain. And there is this hypothesis that’s going on, that might be one of the triggers for things like dementia.”

To hear the full conversation, including when you should get your hearing checked and some things that can help with hearing loss, click play on the audio player above.