Dementia and Hearing Loss

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the link between hearing loss and dementia.

What people with hearing loss need to know

Hearing loss is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including ageing, exposure to loud noise, and certain medical conditions. Hearing loss can range from mild to severe, and it can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the link between hearing loss and dementia. Dementia is a broad term that refers to a decline in cognitive function that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.

Recent research finds a link

Research has shown that people with hearing loss are at an increased risk of developing dementia. For example, a study published in the journal The Lancet found that people with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia as people with normal hearing. People with moderate hearing loss were three times more likely to develop dementia, and people with severe hearing loss were five times more likely to develop dementia.

Why?

There are a few reasons why hearing loss may increase the risk of dementia. One reason is that hearing loss can lead to social isolation. When people have difficulty hearing, they may withdraw from social activities and conversations. This can lead to decreased cognitive stimulation and increased risk of dementia.

Another reason why hearing loss may increase the risk of dementia is that it can put a strain on the brain. When people have difficulty hearing, they have to work harder to process sound. This can divert resources away from other cognitive tasks, such as memory and attention. Over time, this can lead to cognitive decline.

What can I do?

The good news is that there are things that people with hearing loss can do to reduce their risk of dementia. One of the most important things is to get treatment for hearing loss. Hearing aids can help to improve hearing and reduce the strain on the brain.

In addition to getting treatment for hearing loss, people with hearing loss can also reduce their risk of dementia by staying socially active and engaging in cognitively stimulating activities. Staying physically active is also important for overall brain health.

If you have hearing loss, it is important to talk to your doctor about your risk of dementia. They can help you to develop a plan to reduce your risk and protect your brain health.
Here are some additional tips for people with hearing loss:

  • Use your hearing aids consistently. This will help to improve your hearing and reduce the strain on your brain.
  • Get regular hearing check-ups. This will help to ensure that your hearing aids are working properly and that your hearing loss is not progressing.
  • Stay socially active. Make an effort to participate in social activities and conversations.
  • Engage in cognitively stimulating activities. This could include reading, playing games, or learning a new skill.
  • Stay physically active. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

By taking these steps, you can reduce your risk of dementia and protect your brain health.

References

Association between hearing aid use and all-cause and cause-specific dementia: an analysis of the UK Biobank cohort. Lancet Public Health. 2023;8(3):e266-e277. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(23)00048-8
Magnesium Homeostasis and Metabolic Complications in Elderly Adults with Chronic Kidney Disease. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2012;60(11):2114-2121. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04130.x
Physical fitness and all-cause mortality. A prospective study of healthy men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1989;262(17):2378-2382. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03440170080036

Additional references
Hearing loss and incident dementia: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. 2013;35(4):843-855. doi:10.3233/JAD-130798
Association between hearing aid use and all-cause and cause-specific dementia: an analysis of the UK Biobank cohort. The Lancet Public Health. 2023;8(3):e266-e277. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(23)00048-8

One of the most important things you can do is to get treatment for hearing loss. Hearing aids can help to improve hearing and reduce the strain on the brain.

Interhearing can offer advice and treatment for your hearing loss