People in Portland with untreated hearing loss have a higher risk of suffering from a number of related health complications. One of the most serious is dementia. Researchers have long wondered whether treating hearing impairment with hearing aids might help delay or prevent dementia. A recent study has provided some answers.
The Link Between Hearing Impairment and Cognitive Decline
Numerous studies over the past decade have found a correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care are among the groups that have identified this link.
Just last year, a team of researchers in France released the results of a long-term study. They followed 3,700 people over 25 years and learned that individuals with untreated hearing loss over the age of 65 were 35 percent more likely to develop dementia than their peers with normal hearing. Their risk increased an additional 20 percent for every corresponding 10-decibel loss. The group recommended treatment with hearing aids, though data about their effectiveness as a preventive tool was incomplete.
A research team from the University of Exeter and King’s College London set out to answer this question. They conducted a large-scale study of 25,000 hearing-impaired people 50 and older. Participants were divided into two groups – one consisting of individuals who wore hearing aids and another who did not treat their condition. All were given annual cognitive tests over the course of two years; those who wore hearing aids had better working memory and attention scores, faster reaction times and better concentration than the group who did not wear aids.
Dr. Anne Corbett, lead researcher, said, “Previous research has shown that hearing loss is linked to a loss of brain function, memory and an increased risk of dementia. Our work is one of the largest studies to look at the impact of wearing a hearing aid and suggests that wearing a hearing aid could actually protect the brain. We now need more research and a clinical trial to test this and perhaps feed into policy to help keep people healthy in later life.”
Another team member, Professor Clive Ballard, added, “The message here is that if you’re advised you need a hearing aid, find one that works for you. At the very least it will improve your hearing and it could help keep your brain sharp too.”
That’s enough to convince us!
If you are suffering from hearing loss in Portland and have resisted seeking treatment, it’s in your own best long-term interest to have a chat with an audiologist. Treating your condition can help delay the onset of dementia and other forms of cognitive decline.