Hearing Loss & Dementia Linked

Release Date: February 14, 2011

Dementia is a condition that affects millions of people. Seniors with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia. However, a study by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging says it could lead to new ways to treat dementia.

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

The reason for the link is unknown. However, researchers think that a common cause and effect may be seen in both. It may be that people with hearing loss have the extra strain of decoding sounds. As a result, stressing the brain from the strain. This leaves people more at risk for dementia. Also, they believe that hearing loss makes people less social. This is a known risk factor for dementia and other cognitive disorders.

Whatever the cause, they think their findings may offer a starting point for treatment even as simple as hearing aids that could slow or prevent dementia by improving patients hearing.

Is There a Relationship?

Researchers have looked at what affects hearing loss, but few have looked at how hearing loss affects cognitive brain function, says study leader Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Otology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. There hasn’t been much talk between otologists and geriatricians, so it’s been unclear whether hearing loss and dementia are related.

To make the link, Lin used data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging (BLSA). The BLSA, started by the National Institute on Aging in 1958, has tracked health factors in thousands of men and women over the years.

Current Research

The new study, in the February Archives of Neurology, was looking at 639 people. Their hearing and cognitive abilities went through assessment as part of the BLSA between 1990 and 1994. While about a quarter of the people had some hearing loss at the start of the study, none had dementia.

They did exams on these people every one to two years. By 2008, they could see the start of dementia in 58 of them. The researchers found that study participants with hearing loss at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop dementia by the end. In addition, compared with people with normal hearing, those with mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss had twofold, threefold, and fivefold, respectively, the risk of having dementia over time. So, the more hearing loss they had, the higher their risk for this memory-robbing disease.

Even after the researchers considered other factors that are linked to the risk of dementia, including diabetes, high blood pressure, age, sex, and race, Lin explains, hearing loss and dementia were still strongly connected.

A lot of people ignore hearing loss because it’s such a slow process as we age, Lin says. Even if people feel they are not seeing any effects, we’re showing that it may well be a more serious problem.

The research has support from the intramural research program of the National Institute on Aging.

Watch the interview on CBS news with Dr. Lin.

Jesse Hidalgo, BC-HIS

Jesse is Board Certified in Hearing Instruments and has built over 25 practices during his business career starting in 1998. Using his training in Hearing Instrument Sciences he has helped thousands of patients across those practices hear better.
Published: December 23, 2016

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Affordable Hearing Aids with Sonic Cheer
So you have hearing loss and need something to help you hear better. You want affordable hearing aids that won’t break the bank but packed with as much technology as possible. You would like it to be small and discreet. Lastly, you would like to be fit by a hearing...
Signia Xperience Hearing Aids
Within the Xperience platform, there are several models of hearing aids, the Pure Charge & Go and the Styletto rechargeable hearing aids. Battery Life: With the Charge & Go, the average wear time is 23 hours a day, so your rechargeable battery is going to last...
The Different Ways People Experience Tinnitus
Tinnitus is different for everyone. While two people may experience ringing in their ears, they may perceive this sound differently. Tinnitus can also impact people in a number of ways. Some people may describe their tinnitus as a small annoyance, while others...
Unexpected Benefits of Hearing Aids
Roughly 38 million Americans have reported some degree of hearing loss. Of those 38 million people, roughly 29 million Americans could benefit from wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids will not only help you hear sounds around you a little more clearly, but they provide...
Hearing Aid Friendly Face Masks
Face masks are a standard requirement for almost everywhere. However, wearing a traditional face mask that goes around your ear can comes with its fair share of issues for hearing aid users. Many patients have been on the hunt for a hearing aid friendly mask. Amidst...
Making Your Hearing Aids More Comfortable
Have you just been fit for your first set of hearing aids? You may be experiencing some anxiety or nervousness about using something new, or you may be worried about the comfortability. We have good news for you - you are not alone. Several first-time hearing aid...
Preventing Age-Related Hearing Loss
We lose about 0.5 percent of our hearing capacity every year. This means that we lose about five percent of our hearing every ten years. Age-related hearing loss can be very frustrating. As our hearing begins to fade, we may find that it is more difficult to complete...
Noise Can Damage More Than Hearing
Loud noise is not only bad for your ears but can play a negative role in your overall health. Exposure to loud and annoying sounds can affect our blood pressure, cause headaches, cause irritability, and even cause fatigue. When we hear a sound that is annoying to us,...
Making the Most of Your Appointments
Just like your car, your hearing aids and hearing health can benefit from routine care and maintenance. After a hearing aid fitting, you are likely to be asked to come back for follow-up appointments. These routine visits offer great opportunities for you to ask your...
What to Ask Your Hearing Aid Specialist
Coming to terms with your hearing loss isn’t easy. Chances are you’ve put off going to the hearing aid clinic for as long as you could. In that time, you probably got used to living with hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid can feel overwhelming at first. It’s a big...
Call Now Button