Hearing Loss and Mental Decline

Posted on January 22 2013

Hearing loss is a difficult aging related condition that forces many to adjust. A new study out shows that hearing loss is not the only condition families may have to adjust to. Cognitive decline has now been linked to hearing loss, increasing patient mental decline by 30% - 40%. Though experts have not been able to identify the direct correlation, the how and why, they have identified that older people with hearing loss are 24 times more likely to experience cognitive decline. The recent study followed nearly 2,000 adults in the 70s and 80s. Most of these adults showed no signs of mental decline at the beginning of the study, though almost 1,200 did experience some level of hearing loss. Researchers have identified mental decline development in 609 study participants. The cognitive decline was determined based on a standardized test and also identified the enhanced risk of mental decline for those with hearing loss. It is estimated that in comparison to elderly people in the same age range, patients began development of mental decline just under 8-years of suffering from hearing loss.  Those without any hearing loss showed signs of mental decline development within an 11-year period. In this comparison, researchers did take into account additional health risks including smoking, diabetes, and family health history. It is believed that the adjustments made by patients with hearing loss may actually cause the mental decline. In theory, as patients put more effort into their hearing and focusing on the audible sounds around them, they are redirecting resources that should be applied to other areas of the brain. With the heavy need to use the resources more often, it is possible that patients with hearing loss may actually cause their own mental decline. While hearing loss has a way of creeping up on an individual, most of the time being identified as a problem by a friend or family member, there are great tools that can assist in better hearing. For many built-up ear wax can cause obstruction in the ear canal and prevent proper hearing. There are many tools that can help with this from ear wax removal drops, to the Bionix Ear Lavage System. Some products may be better suited for use by a physician than in the home, but many can provide relief and restore some hearing. Additionally, for patients who are already using a hearing aid, these little gadgets can get gunked up as well and a hearing aid cleaning kit can remove debris from the unit, allowing it to operate better and project better sound. Many tools can help keep hearing levels up to par, but if left untreated or ignore, hearing loss can result in mental declines. While more research is needed to determine the exact correlation between the two conditions, for those with hearing loss, it is best to see a hearing specialist and use tools for assistance. Sources: U.S. News & World Report/ HealthDay - USA Today - Health & Wellness - MedPage Today -


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