Do Hearing Aids Prevent Dementia? Knowing Cause and Effect
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Updated January 2024
There’s nothing sweeter than the voice of someone you love. But when it becomes difficult to hear, that simple joy is taken away, replaced by frustration, isolation, and—as recent studies show—an increased chance of developing dementia. Do hearing aids prevent dementia? In many ways, healthy hearing can also help your brain health and reduce your chances of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
For more than 50 years, Raleigh Capitol ENT has led the way in technological innovation and patient satisfaction. With the expertise of our fellowship-trained ear, nose, and throat doctors in Raleigh, we offer care that is both compassionate and cost-effective. We have several convenient locations throughout the area, including Raleigh, Garner, Wake Forest, Cary, and Holly Springs. We can assess your hearing and determine if a hearing aid would improve your quality of life. Just contact us for an appointment.
In this article, we’ll go in-depth into the research and answers behind do hearing aids prevent dementia?, as well as provide vital information on what to do if you have hearing problems.
Do Hearing Aids Prevent Dementia? Research on the Relationship Between Hearing Loss and Dementia
The Journal of the American Medical Association published a 2023 article detailing a study on hearing loss and do hearing aids prevent dementia. The article stated that dementia was much more prevalent among those with moderate to severe hearing loss than it was in those with no hearing problems.
Dementia occurred in 17% of the study group with moderate to severe hearing loss. When compared to those with mild hearing loss (9%) and those with normal hearing (6%), it’s clear that hearing issues greatly increase your risk of developing dementia.
In addition, the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that using a hearing aid was associated with fewer cases of dementia.
This mirrors an earlier study from 2013 published in Aging and Mental Health. It stated that those with a hearing problem show a 30 to 40 percent higher rate of mental decline when compared to those with normal hearing.
Of course, there are aspects of hearing loss that the statistics never show, such as the frustration of not being able to hear conversations in a restaurant or always asking others to constantly repeat themselves. It’s also exasperating to be unable to hear someone if they are behind you. Hearing loss transforms your entire life.
How Many Americans Have Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is a natural part of aging. An estimated 25 percent of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss that is so prevalent it can become disabling, according to the Hearing Language Association of America.
Because hearing loss is so closely associated with dementia, it’s vital to speak with one of our ear doctors or audiologists in Raleigh if you’re having hearing problems—especially if they are slowly getting worse.
Why Does Hearing Loss Contribute to Dementia?
While not everyone with hearing loss will get dementia, it puts you at higher risk. But why? The key is within how your brain processes information.
One theory suggests that when you have hearing loss, the brain spends a lot more of its “energy” (referred to as its “cognitive load”) to try to understand sounds. As a result, more of the brain’s resources are allocated to trying to figure out what is being said. This leaves little mental “energy” for the brain to complete other tasks.
We also know that hearing loss can accelerate atrophy in the cerebrum. This means that the part of your brain that is used for important functions like touch, vision, speech, reason, and emotions, loses its effectiveness. This can not only cause deterioration of thought patterns, but it can also lead to depression.
What Are Effective Treatments for Hearing Loss?
Getting a hearing aid will not only help you understand what is being said, but it will also take some of the “cognitive load” off of your brain so it can concentrate on other tasks. There are several different types of hearing aids available, including a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA).
Modern hearing aids have several innovative features, and they are even able to pair with your phone or other electronic devices.
When selecting a hearing aid, there’s something we’d like you to keep in mind: Our ear doctors at Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose, and Throat are independent—our practice is not a franchise. We’re also not a part of a university health system or a large business.
This means we have no obligation to work with any one hearing aid company, and we can provide a wider variety of styles that can be tailored to fit your individual hearing needs. We understand that one type of hearing aid is not right for everyone—even if they are experiencing the same type of hearing loss. This page offers a wide variety of information on hearing aids.
Do You Need a Hearing Test?
Hearing loss doesn’t happen suddenly—your hearing will gradually get worse over time. If you’re not sure if you need a hearing test, ask yourself these questions:
What Are the Risk Factors for Hearing Loss?
There are also several risk factors for developing hearing loss. These include:
Raleigh Capitol ENT: The Leaders in Treating Hearing Loss
Do hearing aids prevent dementia? We’ve discussed the close relationship between healthy hearing and a healthy brain. Treating hearing loss promptly greatly reduces the chances that you’ll develop Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
Audiology Services in Raleigh at Raleigh Capitol ENT
Did you know there is a difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser? A hearing aid dispenser only needs to have a high school diploma and can only conduct basic hearing tests.
By comparison, our audiologists must have more than 1,800 hours of clinical training and a minimum of a master’s degree. Audiologists can also diagnose more than mere hearing loss; they can assess balance disorders. We’re proud of our audiology team, who represent the best of their profession.
If you believe you are experiencing hearing loss, please schedule an appointment with one of our leading audiologists. The connection between hearing loss and dementia means it’s more important than ever to hear well.