In a study from Johns Hopkins, scientists found that older adults with greater severity of hearing loss were more likely to have dementia, but the likelihood of dementia was lower in hearing aid users compared to non-users.
They used data from more than 2,400 older adults.
The findings are consistent with prior studies showing that hearing loss might be a contributing factor to dementia risk over time, and that treating hearing loss may lower dementia risk.
Hearing loss is a critical public health issue affecting two-thirds of Americans over 70.
The growing understanding that hearing loss might be linked to the risk of dementia, which impacts millions, and other adverse outcomes has called attention to implementing possible strategies to treat hearing loss.
In the study, the team analyzed a nationally representative dataset from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS).
The analysis covered 2,413 individuals, about half of whom were over 80, and showed a clear association between the severity of hearing loss and dementia.
The team found the prevalence of dementia among the participants with moderate/severe hearing loss was 61% higher than the prevalence among participants who had normal hearing.
Hearing aid use was linked to a 32% lower prevalence of dementia in the 853 participants who had moderate/severe hearing loss.
How hearing loss is linked to dementia isn’t yet clear, and studies point to several possible mechanisms.
The current research adds to a body of work by the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health examining the relationship between hearing loss and dementia.
The researchers expect to have a fuller picture of the effect of hearing loss treatment on cognition and dementia from their Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) Study.
If you care about hearing loss, please read studies about antibiotic drug that can lead to hearing loss, and whether you should get an hearing aid or see a specialist.
If you care about dementia, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.
The study was conducted by Alison Huang et al and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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