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Hearing loss is a common condition, with one in eight people in the United States, age 12 or older, experiencing hearing loss in both ears.1 It can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, noise exposure and genetics. While many people may think of hearing loss as a minor inconvenience, research has shown that untreated hearing loss can have serious consequences, including an increased risk of dementia.

Dementia is a group of disorders characterized by cognitive decline, memory loss and other symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. While there are many risk factors for dementia, recent studies have shown that hearing loss is the number one modifiable risk factor according to a 2020 Lancet commission report.

risk of dementia graphic

Why does hearing loss contribute to the risk of dementia?

  • Hearing loss may lead to social isolation, which can be a risk factor for dementia. When people have trouble hearing, they may withdraw from social situations, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.
  • The brain must work harder to process sounds when hearing loss is present.
  • Hearing loss causes the aging brain to shrink more quickly.

These changes may make the brain more vulnerable to cognitive decline and dementia. Treating hearing loss reduces dementia risk by ~8%, which is more than any other risk factor alone.

How can you reduce the risk of dementia associated with hearing loss?

One of the most important is to seek treatment for hearing loss as soon as possible. Hearing aids can help people with hearing loss communicate more effectively and stay engaged in social situations, which can reduce the risk of social isolation and its associated cognitive decline.

Visit South Florida ENT Associates 

If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, it’s important to seek treatment from an ENT specialist. Our physicians at South Florida ENT Associates are highly trained experts. We offer a range of services to help diagnose and treat hearing loss, including hearing tests, hearing aids and other assistive devices. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your hearing and reduce your risk of dementia.

1 Lin FR, Niparko JK, Ferrucci L.  Hearing loss prevalence in the United States. [Letter] Arch Intern Med. 2011 Nov 14; 171(20): 1851-1852.

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