UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS — A team of Dutch researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University Medical Center Utrecht and Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, recently published a meta-analysis that showed an association between hearing loss and psychosis. Their meta-analyses revealed an increased risk of hearing impairment on all psychosis outcomes, including hallucinations, delusions, psychotic symptoms and delirium.
Early exposure to hearing impairment also elevated the risk of later development of schizophrenia.
Hearing Loss and Psychosis
Psychosis is a condition of the mind, broadly defined as “a loss of contact with reality”. According to a PubMed key word search, it is estimated that 13 to 23% of individuals experience psychotic symptoms at some point in their lifetime, with 1 to 4% meeting the criteria for a psychotic disorder. Further, research suggests that psychotic symptoms can increase patients’ risk for harming themselves or others or being unable to meet their basic needs.
Although hearing healthcare professionals may not regularly be working with patients that have these mental conditions, a recent study indicates hearing impairment increases the risk of hallucinations and/or delusions and increases the risk of later schizophrenia.
In their conclusion, the authors suggest early assessment and treatment of hearing impairment in patients with a high risk of psychosis is important in the treatment and prevention of psychosis.
Like other recent studies suggesting an associative link (and not a causal link) between age-related hearing loss and other co-morbidities, the results of this study should be interpreted with caution. But it does represent an opportunity for professionals to intervene in the care of more individuals who may be coping with untreated hearing loss.
Mascha, L.,Brouwer, R., Heringa, S., Sommer, I. Increased risk of psychosis in patients with hearing impairment: Review and meta-analyses. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Vol 62, March 2016, Pages 1–20
*Featured image courtesy drmarcia.net