Hearing loss is a growing epidemic. Roughly 48 million Americans of all ages suffer some degree of hearing loss (source: http://hearingloss.org/content/basic-facts-about-hearing-loss). This is important for various reasons. Today, I want to focus on the relation of hearing loss and cognitive decline, especially dementia.
Compared to individuals who have normal hearing, those who have hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia, shows a 2011 study.
Those with mild hearing loss are 2 times more likely, moderate hearing loss 3 times more likely, and severe hearing loss 5 times more likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing.
While other factors that are associated with high risk of dementia, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and age, were taken into account, hearing loss and dementia are still strongly associated.
The findings are from a study published in 2011 by Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. Lin and his team followed 639 patients for 18 years. None of the subjects had cognitive impairments at the beginning of the study, however, some did have some degree of hearing loss. Throughout the 18 years of follow ups, there were 58 cases of dementia diagnosed among the 639 patients.
Now, I don’t have near the intelligence as Dr. Lin, but I will say this, there is no denying the fact that the relationship between the ears and the brain is strong. Doesn’t it make sense that if you are not hearing appropriately, that you won’t remember appropriately? In 2015, an estimated 5.3 Americans of all ages have alzheimer’s and every 67 seconds someone else develops the disease. (Source: http//alz.org/facts/overview.asp) Research indicates social isolation, issues with shared brain function pathways and hearing loss-related sensory overload may be important risk factors. (Source: Lin, et al: Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. JAMA Internal Medicine 2013.
If there is no denying, that better hearing would also mean better and stronger brain activity and function, why wouldn’t you take the step towards better hearing today?