Though normal, hearing loss can be a serious problem with even more serious consequences. Studies have linked hearing loss to loss of cognitive function, memory loss, and even dementia. 

Those studies found that people with hearing loss are two to five times more likely to develop cognitive problems at an earlier age when compared to those with normal hearing. Why is that?

Hearing is one of the most important sensory functions that help to keep your brain sharp and active. It is also a key function in social interactions. Hearing loss leads to isolation, depression, and even more mental problems.

How Does Hearing Loss Lead to Memory Loss and Cognitive Decline?

Hearing stimulates the brain in many ways. It plays a key role in concentration, memory, planning, and social interaction. Hearing loss reduces this stimulation and causes the brain to atrophy.

In fact, one study published in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that hearing loss seems to shrink some parts of the brain and affect neural pathways.

The study also found that the brain works harder to comprehend speech when there are hearing challenges. This can lead to fatigue and possible brain damage if left untreated for too long. All these factors affect memory in several ways:

  • The brain can’t just comprehend some of the things you hear
  • The brain is busier trying to concentrate and understand what’s being said than interpreting and retaining information. This is known as cognitive overload
  • When isolated, the brain experiences less stimulation and starts to atrophy. This is one of the biggest risk factors of dementia
  • Emotional and psychological issues such as depression and anxiety can change the way your brain operates

Can Hearing Aids Stop or Reverse Cognitive Decline?

Yes, experts strongly believe that hearing aids and cochlear implants (CIs) can help to slow down memory loss associated with hearing loss.

For one, hearing aids make it easier for the brain to understand and interpret what’s being said. You can use most of your brainpower to concentrate and form memories and reduce cognitive overload.

Secondly, hearing aids allow you to interact more easily with people. Social interaction stimulates the brain, reduces stress, and can reverse depression and anxiety. All these can slow down or even reverse memory loss and loss of cognitive function.

For now, there isn’t definitive evidence that hearing aids can stop memory loss. However, studies suggest that hearing aids can help delay the loss of cognitive function.

So far, evidence shows that hearing aids can restore normal memory in as few as six months. An ear specialist will determine and prescribe the right hearing aids for you. CTA