Hearing aids may prevent or delay the onset and progression of dementia, study suggests

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By Aoife Cosgrave | Thursday 04 January 2024

JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery: Hearing Loss, Hearing Aid Use, and Risk of Dementia in Older Adults

A new study involving 573,088 adults in Southern Denmark provides further data indicating that hearing loss is associated with increased dementia risk, especially among people not using hearing aids. This suggests that hearing aids might prevent or delay the onset and progression of dementia.

Hearing loss was significantly associated with a 7% higher risk of dementia. People with hearing loss who were not using hearing aids were at considerably higher risk of dementia compared with people with hearing loss who used hearing aids.

However, the magnitude of these associations was lower than most studies in the field.

Dr Leah Mursaleen, Head of Clinical Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“This large, well-conducted study adds to the growing evidence that losing your hearing increases your risk of dementia. And this raises the possibility that a proportion of dementia cases could be prevented by correcting hearing loss through, for example, using hearing aids.

“Although the effects of using hearing aids are notoriously difficult to unravel, because researchers cannot be sure if people use them consistently, there is building evidence suggesting that using them can help reduce the impact of hearing loss on dementia risk. Further research is needed to help us better understand this link, and with around one million people now affected by dementia in the UK, and 12 million people estimated to have some type of hearing loss, this has never been more important.

“Like dementia, losing your hearing is not an inevitable part of ageing and early intervention is crucial. That’s why we are urging the government to include a hearing check in the NHS Health Check for those over 40. This could help millions identify hearing issues sooner, and potentially reduce the risk of dementia.”

 

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Aoife Cosgrave