According to the National Institute on Ageing, someone worldwide acquires dementia, a group of illnesses that affect the brain and result in cognitive deterioration, every three seconds. Memory lapse and a reliable source.
The most typical dementia subtype. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a reliable source.
Dementia can occur for a variety of reasons, and there are a number of risk factors for dementia as well. Hearing loss is one of them.
Studies from the past have correlated. Hearing loss increases the chance of dementia, according to a reliable source.
The largest clinical experiment to look into whether a hearing loss therapy intervention can lessen a person’s risk for cognitive decline has now been completed, and the results have been published by researchers from the Ageing and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) study.
The study’s findings, ACHIEVE
Participants in the ACHIEVE study range in age from 70 to 84, have mild to moderate hearing loss that is untreated, and do not have significant cognitive impairment. Four American locations were used to carry out the study.
977 individuals in all were recruited for the study. About 740 of them were recently recruited healthy community participants. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARICTrusted Source) study has about 240 participants.
Researchers found that participants in the ARIC group had more cognitive risk factors, poorer baseline cognitive scores, and a faster rate of cognitive deterioration over the course of the study’s three years than the other participants.
One group of participants underwent a three-year intervention that included receiving hearing aids, a self-management “toolkit” for hearing loss, and regular training and counselling with an audiologist.
Only speaking sessions with a health educator to address chronic disease prevention were provided to the control group.
After three years, researchers discovered that ARIC study participants who received hearing aids and intervention had decreased the rate of their cognitive loss by 48%.
The ACHIEVE study’s co-principal investigator, Dr. Frank Lin, professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said, “A 48% reduction in cognitive deterioration is significant, and we were happy to learn that the benefit was so high.
How Are Hearing Loss And Cognitive Deterioration Related?
Dr. Lin claims that it has been well established for more than ten years by researchers that hearing loss significantly increases the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
But he continued, “We didn’t know if treating hearing loss may actually slow cognitive deterioration and perhaps even cut the likelihood of dementia.
Dr. Lin outlined three key factors that shed light on why dementia and hearing loss may be linked:
“First, hearing loss causes speech and sound to be muddled before they reach the brain, which makes it harder for the brain to understand the signals coming from the ear. The brain’s capacity to sustain thinking and memory is therefore reduced.
Second, hearing loss depletes the areas of the brain that are normally activated by speech and sound, which can result in atrophy and modifications to the brain’s structure and function.
Third, communication difficulties brought on by hearing loss can result in social isolation.Another dementia risk factor is Trusted Source.
— Dr. Frank Lin, co-principal investigator for the ACHIEVE research project
This is not the first study to look into the relationship between dementia, hearing loss, and hearing aids.
According to Trusted Source, wearing hearing aids may slow the cognitive decline brought on by hearing loss.
Additionally, an observational study that was released in April 2023 discovered that dementia risk was elevated in individuals with hearing loss and that utilising hearing aids may potentially reduce that risk.
Additional Proof That Treating Hearing Loss Enhances Cognitive
After reading this study, Dr. Courtney Voelker, a board-certified neurotologist and the manager of the Adult & Paediatric Cochlear Implant Programme at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Centre in Santa Monica, California, told MNT that this is a fascinating study that adds to the growing body of evidence that not only is hearing loss connected to cognitive decline as we age, but that we can also take action to prevent it.
According to her, there is growing evidence, which includes this study, that treating hearing loss aggressively can enhance cognition. This treatment may include cochlear implants or hearing aids, depending on the severity of the hearing loss. And it’s really exciting.
Dr. Voelker claimed that when discussing cognitive decline with her patients, she emphasises the significance of maintaining brain neuron activation and stimulation.
“And it’s very interesting — patients really respond to this,” she added. “People who may have initially been reluctant to adopt hearing aids take the possibility of developing cognitive dementia very seriously when making their choice. I also explain to patients why we allow people to go without hearing aids even though we would never allow someone to go without glasses if they had vision problems. Additionally, patients appear to connect with that parallel. When wearing glasses, we want our vision to be as sharp and clear as possible.
— Neurotologist Courtney Voelker
And MNT also met with Dr. Raphael Wald, a neuropsychologist at Bethesda Hospital East’s Marcus Neuroscience Institute, a division of Baptist Health.
He acknowledged that there is a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline, which has been recognised by clinicians for some time. The findings of this study offer another way to examine this connection.
In an effort to get my patients to cooperate with therapy, I frequently find myself explaining to them that untreated hearing loss increases the chance of cognitive decline.
Future research on the causes of many patients’ hearing aid noncompliance would be beneficial, the expert continued. This would enable us to look for ways to address their issues.
Using hearing aids enhances social and communication abilities
Researchers found that the hearing intervention enhanced study participants’ communication abilities, social functioning, and feelings of loneliness in both the ARIC group and the group of community volunteers.
According to Dr. Lin’s prior research, “loneliness and social isolation have a negative impact on people’s health as they age.”
While the precise process through which loneliness may raise the risk of dementia is unknown, there are several hints and potential contributing factors.
He continued, “Individuals who are isolated tend to be less active, more likely to experience depression, and less likely to follow through with medical treatments – all of which could eventually increase the risk of dementia.
Understanding Hearing Loss
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 20% of people worldwide suffer from some form of hearing loss.
There are several reasons why someone could lose their hearing, including:
exposure to jarring soundsOver time, Trusted Source ear infectionDamage to the inner ear, according to a reliable source, and an eardrum rupture.dependable source family historyTrusted Source of hearing loss specific conditions that result in a high temperature, including meningitis various drugs
Furthermore, hearing loss becomes more prevalent as we age, with the majority of cases typically happening beyond the age of 60.
Hearing loss can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances. There is currently no solution for age-related hearing loss, and it may get worse with time.