Understanding the Link Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline: Insights by SLENT Hearing & Balance Center

2023-06-21 | Cognitive Decline, Patient Resources

here's a solid body of evidence establishing the link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline, making the case for prompt hearing loss treatment even more compelling.

Aging comes with its own set of health complications, and hearing loss is a pervasive issue among the elderly. However, hearing loss isn’t just about reduced auditory perception; it carries grave implications for cognitive health when left untreated. 

There’s a solid body of evidence establishing the link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline, making the case for prompt hearing loss treatment even more compelling. 

SLENT Hearing & Balance Center, delivering the highest levels of advanced audiological care in South Louisiana, recognizes the profound connection between auditory health and cognitive wellbeing and incorporates this understanding into our holistic approach to patient care. 

The Prevalence of Hearing Loss and Widespread Ignorance 

Hearing loss is a far more common health concern, particularly among the older population, than most people realize. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 experience hearing loss, and this number increases to nearly half for those aged above 75. 

Despite the widespread nature of this health issue, only about 20 percent of those who could benefit from treatment for hearing loss seek assistance. This reluctance, combined with the established correlation between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline, represents a significant and frequently overlooked threat to cognitive health. 

Cognitive Decline and Its Relationship With Hearing Loss 

Cognitive decline refers to the gradual erosion of cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, and thinking skills. In severe cases, it can lead to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, severely affecting a person’s quality of life. 

Several theories exist that explain the connection between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline. One widely accepted theory posits that the cognitive overload resulting from the challenges posed by hearing loss to speech comprehension can lead to the decline of other cognitive functions. Additionally, hearing loss can often result in social isolation, a known contributor to cognitive decline. 

The Science Behind the Connection

Several studies support the association between hearing loss and cognitive decline. One influential study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that cognitive abilities declined 30–40 percent faster in individuals with hearing loss than those without. 

Similarly, a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery involving nearly 2,000 older adults with hearing loss showed they had a 24 percent higher risk for cognitive decline compared to those without hearing loss. 

Addressing Hearing Loss 

Timely addressing hearing loss can have significant benefits, including potentially slowing or halting cognitive decline.

Hearing aids, the standard treatment for hearing loss, can alleviate cognitive overload by reducing the effort needed to understand speech, thus freeing cognitive resources for other functions. 

Moreover, improved hearing often leads to increased social interaction, offsetting the adverse effects of social isolation on mental health. 

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SLENT Hearing & Balance Center: Your Partner in Hearing Health 

At SLENT Hearing & Balance Center, we’re committed to addressing the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Our team of audiologists provides comprehensive care that considers your auditory and cognitive health. 

We invite you to take an active role in preserving your hearing and cognitive health. Don’t let untreated hearing loss take a toll on your life. Schedule your hearing evaluation with SLENT Hearing & Balance Center today. Our team is ready and equipped to provide you with advanced audiological care in South Louisianacall us today at (985) 273-5795.

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Dr. JJ Martinez, AuD, FAAA

J.J. was born in Wichita, KS, and was brought up in a Marine Corps family. Following in his father’s footsteps, he joined the Marine Corps after high school and was stationed in Camp Lejeune, NC. After going to college at Southeastern Louisiana University, he went to graduate school and got his doctorate degree from Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans, LA. Soon after, he started his career in audiology and became board certified in Audiology.


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