Does Hearing Loss Contribute to Brain Atrophy?

Woman with long dark hair and black rimmed glasses experiencing cognitive decline.

As we get older we start to have trouble hearing clearly and we usually just accept it as a normal part of growing older. Maybe we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or perhaps we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also frequently regarded as a standard part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the younger population. But is it possible that there’s a link between the two? And, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?

Hearing loss and mental decline

Mental decline and dementia aren’t commonly associated with hearing loss. However, the link is quite clear if you look in the appropriate places: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a substantial risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health issues, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.

Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?

While there is no concrete finding or definitive proof that hearing loss causes cognitive decline and mental health issues, there is some association and numerous clues that experts are investigating. They have pinpointed two main situations that they think lead to issues: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Countless studies show that loneliness leads to anxiety and depression. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to socialize with others. Many people find it difficult to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. Mental health problems can be the result of this path of isolation.

Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing impairment, the brain has to work extra hard to make up for the diminished stimulation. Ultimately, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like holding memories, has to use some of its resources to help the part of the brain responsible for hearing. Cognitive decline will then develop faster than normal as the overtaxed brain struggles to keep up.

How to prevent cognitive decline with hearing aids

Hearing aids are our first weapon against mental decline, mental health issues, and dementia. When patients use hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people used their hearing aids, we may see less instances of mental health issues and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are almost 50 million people who cope with some form of dementia. For many people and families, the quality of life will be improved if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for an appointment.


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.