Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

What Studies Say About Hearing Loss and Dementia

For years scientists have studied the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Through these studies researchers have discovered how hearing loss causes cognitive decline in the brain. In order to fully understand the importance of addressing hearing loss, discover what the latest research says so you can take the right steps for your health.

The Link between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

Referencing a study involving over 10,000 men, scientists at the Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School discovered a connection between the severity of hearing loss and cognitive decline:

  • Men with mild hearing loss had a 30% higher risk of subjective cognitive decline
  • Men with moderate or severe hearing loss had a 42% to 54% higher risk of subjective cognitive decline

This study shows that people with severe cases of hearing loss have a greater risk of experiencing cognitive decline. Therefore, it can be deduced that hearing loss causes changes in the brain’s ability to function, and anyone who is experiencing hearing loss should seek treatment immediately.

Hearing Aids Improve Brain Function

In a 2018 study from the University of Maryland, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, researchers found that using hearing aids can improve your working memory. Their research included people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss using hearing aids for the first time over a period of six months. At the beginning and end of this time span, the participants completed various behavioral and cognitive tests that measured their working memory and processing speed. After six months, the group using hearing aids experienced better memory, speech processing, and ease of listening overall.

Hearing is a Risk Factor for Dementia

A report from the Lancet Commissions on Dementia Prevention in 2017 showed there are 9 age-related risk factors for developing dementia. The most prevalent factor is hearing loss, particularly affecting people from ages 45 to 65. Hearing loss is largely untreated, leading to its prevalence in this group. In fact, only 20 percent of people who could benefit from hearing aids actually use them.

Seek Treatment

Although the connection between hearing loss and dementia becomes clearer every day, there are many ways to improve hearing and reduce the effects of cognitive decline. If you are experiencing hearing loss, schedule an appointment to receive a hearing assessment. With help from a professional and the right hearing aid, you’ll be able to hear clearly and maintain a healthy cognitive function.

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