Hearing Loss & Cognition
Hearing loss has multifaceted effects on overall health and wellness. In addition to straining hearing capacity, hearing loss contributes to various health risks including cognitive decline. Extensive research shows that there is a link between untreated hearing loss and reduced cognitive functioning. This increases the risk of developing related conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s which progressively deteriorate cognitive capacities. Fortunately, there are effective ways hearing loss is treated. Treatment offers countless benefits like maximizing hearing, strengthening communication, and improving brain health. These benefits reduce health risks and transform the quality of life.
Link Between Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline
Research has long established hearing loss as a risk factor for cognitive decline. Numerous studies show that hearing loss increases the risk of cognitive decline. This includes a 2019 study published in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. To investigate this link, researchers evaluated the cognitive and hearing capacities of 10,107 participants over 8 years. Researchers found that the risk for cognitive decline was:
- 30% higher among men with mild hearing loss
- 42% higher among men with moderate hearing loss
- 54% higher among men with severe hearing loss.
Importantly, researchers noted that these rates were among people who did not use hearing aids. Like many studies that examine this link before it, this study highlights a significant correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Researchers found that for those who treated severe hearing loss with hearing aids, the risk was just 37% higher. This could also suggest that the degree of hearing loss further increases the risk. These findings support additional studies that also show that hearing loss impacts cognition and provides further evidence that the use of hearing aids may help support our cognitive health.
Impact of Hearing Loss on Brain Health
There are specific portions of the brain that process the auditory information received from the inner ears. Experts suggest that hearing loss can impact these areas and brain health in a few key ways.
Hearing loss can impact the brain in significant ways. The strain hearing loss produces on the brain increases the risk of cognitive decline and the development of associated conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.