Hearing may play a much more important role in brain health than previously thought. A growing body of evidence suggests that hearing loss may increase the risk of dementia. And, that treating hearing loss with hearing aids may help stave off cognitive decline and dementia.
The link between hearing loss and cognitive problems is becoming increasingly accepted. While scientists are still researching the link, one theory suggests that the effort of constantly straining to hear stresses the brain and diverts cognitive resources that could be used for memory. Another theory suggests that trouble hearing isolates people from others. People who can’t hear tend to avoid social situations — and being socially isolated has long been recognized as a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia.
Frank Lin, M.D, an otologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, has done extensive research examining the link between hearing and health. Over the coming years, the researchers will track the participants’ cognitive functions.
Dr. Lin has hypothesized that hearing improvement will stem cognitive decline.