Contrary to popular belief, more than just your ears are responsible for the act of hearing. Your brain plays a key role in hearing as well, helping you understand speech and process sounds. When hearing loss is left untreated, it causes your brain to work harder, which can lead to cognitive decline. Hearing aids may be able to help.
Connection Between Untreated Hearing Loss and Dementia
A 2012 study looked at 639 participants between the ages of 36 to 90. All were dementia-free before enrolling in the study. Over the course of 12 years, 95 participants developed dementia. The researchers determined that the risk of developing dementia doubled in those with mild hearing loss, tripled for those with moderate hearing loss and was five times more likely in those with severe hearing loss.
Benefits of Hearing Aids on Brain Function
Hearing aids are the most popular and best treatment for hearing loss. Yet only 20% of those who could benefit from these devices seeks treatment. Research suggests that in addition to helping patients hear better, it may also improve cognitive performance. This is important if you want to continue eating dinner out with friends at Bardea Food & Drink and having long conversations about politics and current events.
A 2016 study followed six participants between the ages of 54 to 64 with sensorineural hearing loss. Participants were fitted with hearing aids and were instructed to wear the devices for eight hours a day. Cognitive tests were administered before the participants began wearing their hearing aids, while they were wearing their hearing aids and after they stopped wearing the devices.
The researchers found that all participants showed improvement on their cognitive tests, with the most significant improvement seen between two and four weeks of hearing aid usage. These findings are consistent with the idea that hearing aid usage may improve cognitive performance.
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reviewed national longitudinal claims data collected between 2008 to 2016. A total of 114,862 adults ages 66 and older who were diagnosed with hearing loss were include in the study. The researchers found that wearing a hearing aid helped reduce dementia by 18%, depression and anxiety by 11% and fall related injuries by 13%.
To learn more about the benefits of hearing aids or to schedule an appointment with a hearing aid professional, contact Wilmington Audiology today.