Is hearing loss linked to dementia?

Dementia is definitely one of those things that everyone wants to avoid, not only for themselves but for their loved ones as well. Unfortunately, not everyone manages to accomplish this.

According to the website

  • half a million Canadians currently live with dementia.
  • That number is expected to increase to the better part a million Canadians living with dementia by 2030, and
  • 76,000 Canadians are diagnosed with Dementia annually.

The other (often forgotten) statistic that weighs into this equation is that 20% of Canadians have experience caring for someone with dementia. Whether you are afflicted with this debilitating disease, or people you care about are, the impact that dementia causes is unquestionably severe.

But what many people do not realize is that there are actually steps you can take to reduce your chances of being victimized by dementia. Recent studies by Johns Hopkins University have shown a strong correlation between individuals who have hearing loss and dementia. 

While the exact reason for this link is not completely understood, the research suggested a number of possible reasons. One school of thought is that a common pathology could exist in both hearing loss as well as dementia. Another belief the Johns Hopkins study proposed was that the “the strain of decoding sounds over the years may overwhelm the brains of people with hearing loss, leaving them more vulnerable to dementia”.

A third possibility suggested in the same study was that the social isolation that can come from hearing loss, which is a known risk factor for dementia, could be the factor increasing your likelihood of getting dementia. Regardless of what the exact reason is, the simple takeaway fact is that hearing loss and dementia have shown clear ties.

Possibly even more concerning is that hearing loss itself doesn’t need to be that severe for the risk to exist. According to a Dr. Lin at Johns Hopkins, even those individuals who only suffer from mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia. 

It has also been found that as your hearing loss severity increases, so do your chances of suffering from dementia. Further complicating this issue is that sadly, on average people wait 7 years from when they first notice issues with their hearing to when they finally reach out to seek help. 

So what can people do about this?

Fortunately, a study published in the Lancet showed that hearing loss is the number one most modifiable risk factor for dementia.

Here at True Hearing Health we suggest the following steps.

  1. If you are over fifty years old, have your hearing tested annually. Hearing loss is typically a gradual process, so people usually don’t realize how much their hearing has deteriorated.
  2. If you do notice or become aware of any hearing loss, contact a Doctor of Audiology as soon as possible.

The sooner hearing loss is identified, accepted, and appropriate steps are taken to rectify the hearing loss issue, the better.

At True Hearing Health we offer no cost, zero obligation hearing tests.