Can Hearing Loss Affect Your Memory?

August 31, 2022

Can hearing loss affect your memory? We’re taking a closer look at what you should know about your memory and hearing loss. Read more.

Research continues to point to the links between memory loss and certain types of hearing loss. With the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimating that approximately 15 percent of the adult population of the United States have a form of hearing loss, these links are worrying.

A number of studies have investigated the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. In fact, the Hearing Loss Association of America stated that ‘hearing loss may increase the risk of cognitive problems and even dementia.’

So can hearing loss affect your memory? Here’s what you should know.

How is Hearing Loss Connected to Your Memory?

Our brain and our ability to hear are closely connected. We use our brains to interpret the sounds that our ears hear. Hearing loss, particularly when left untreated, can see a reduction in the auditory information that is sent to our brain.

Increasingly, research is showing that untreated hearing loss can impact our memory. In particular, cognitive issues that include dementia and Alzheimer’s.

What is Alzheimer’s?

The Alzheimer’s Association states: “Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases.”

Alzheimer’s is not considered a normal part of aging, although age is the greatest known risk factor. The majority of people with Alzheimer’s are over 65, but estimates show that roughly 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have what is referred to as younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease (also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s).

It is a disease that worsens over time, and there is currently no cure. Treatment for the symptoms are available, and the research for a cure is ongoing.

The Link Between Hearing Loss & Your Memory

In 2014, a John Hopkins study looked at 639 mentally sharp individuals, and monitored their cognitive health for between 12 and 18 years. The study found that the severity of a hearing loss increased the risk of developing dementia by:

  • X 2 for those with mild hearing loss.
  • X 3 for those with moderate hearing loss
  • X 5 for those with severe hearing loss

But why the connection? You may not realize how much a hearing loss can impact your brain:

  • Increased social isolation is a side effect of untreated hearing loss. This lack of social engagement can also affect your brain due to the reduced quality and amount of stimulation it receives. This can actually cause changes to the structure of your brain.
  • A study of MRI scans has shown that brain volume can decline faster in individuals with hearing loss. The study identified a significant correlation between cognitive impairment and hearing loss. It suggested that cells in the underused areas of the brain shrink, potentially causing cognitive decline or dementia.
  • Straining to hear can put repeated, sometimes intense, stress on your brain. Over a prolonged period of time, the ongoing stress can be mentally fatiguing and drain the brain’s energy reserves.

Need Help? Contact Us Today!

As more research points to links between hearing loss and memory problems, it’s even more important to ensure you are staying on top of your hearing health. If you’d like to speak to one of our hearing care experts to schedule a hearing assessment, contact Audiology Professionals today. Our team would be happy to help explore relief options for you. Call us today on (541) 228-9233. Alternatively, click here to contact us online.

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Audiology Professionals

Audiology Professionals