There are many studies that show a connection between hearing loss and dementia, a condition marked by memory loss and trouble thinking or problem-solving. The good news is that treating hearing loss aggressively can actually help ward off cognitive decline and dementia.
In one study, scientists found that the greater a person’s hearing loss is, the greater their chances for cognitive decline seemed to be. Mild, moderate and severe hearing loss meant the odds were two, three and five times greater, respectively, over the following ten-plus years.
A 2013 study found that participants with hearing loss severe enough to interfere with conversation had a decline in cognitive ability 30 to 40 percent faster than those with normal hearing, over a period of six years.
Finally, a 2018 study reported that individuals with hearing loss had a two-fold increase in the risk for dementia, cognitive decline, along with connections to several other adverse health outcomes.
There are several reasons for the connection of hearing loss and dementia.
Many researchers believe that all these connections are likely and it’s probably a combination of all three.
It’s important to note that just because someone is at an increased risk for dementia does not mean that person is certain to develop it. However, there are steps you can take to prevent the effects of this condition.
Some experts believe that the treatment of hearing loss in mid-to-late life could prevent 9% of dementia cases globally. Hearing aids are the most effective way to treat noise-induced or age-related hearing loss.
Avoid harmful noise and use hearing protection like earplugs when at concerts, firing guns or any other particularly loud commercial, industrial, or recreational environment.
Practice healthy lifestyle choices like refraining from smoking, eating well, and exercising. This will help to ensure your body stays in the best shape possible.
Get your hearing checked annually. Many hearing problems can be treated if caught early. If you already have hearing loss, it’s important to closely monitor how it changes over time.