Believe it or not, research has shown that there may be a link between hearing loss and dementia, meaning that hearing loss is directly correlated to having dementia. In a 2011 study conducted by John Hopkins University in the USA, hearing loss has been identified as an important risk factor of dementia. The study has shown that patients with hearing loss were two to five times more likely to develop dementia, depending on the severity of their hearing problem. Other studies, including one from Singapore, also arrived at a similar conclusion.
There are various theories that explain the link between hearing loss and dementia. Firstly, certain diseases can accelerate both cognitive decline and hearing loss, especially those that cause the narrowing of blood vessels in the brain. Secondly, the increased cognitive resources diverted to understand what one is hearing can result in lesser cognitive reserves being available for memory and other mental functions. Lastly, as mentioned above, hearing loss results in social isolation, which is a severe risk factor for dementia.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but we should all be aware that hearing loss can have a significant impact on a person’s life and are often silent – people don’t know the problems are happening until it has manifested fully. At that point, it might be too late for the patient to live their lives like they used to.