Can Brain Atrophy be Caused by Hearing Loss?

Woman with long dark hair and black rimmed glasses experiencing cognitive decline.

Hearing loss is generally accepted as simply a normal part of getting older: as we get older, we begin to hear things a little less clearly. Perhaps we begin to turn up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also commonly seen as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more prone to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But is it possible that there’s a connection between the two? And, better yet, what if there was a way to manage hearing loss and also safeguard your memories and mental health?

Hearing loss and cognitive decline

Most people do not associate hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. However, the connection is very clear if you look in the right places: studies show that there is a considerable risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-like disorders if you also have hearing loss – even at relatively low levels of hearing impairment.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in people who suffer from hearing loss. The key here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all impact our ability to socialize.

Why does hearing loss impact cognitive decline?

There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are exploring some compelling clues. They believe two main scenarios are responsible: your brain working extra hard to hear and social solitude.
Studies have shown that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of loneliness. And when people have hearing loss, they’re less likely to socialize with other people. Many people who suffered from hearing loss find it’s too difficult to participate in conversations or can’t hear well enough to enjoy things like the movie theater. Mental health issues can be the result of this path of solitude.

Studies have also shown that when somebody has hearing impairment, the brain has to work extra hard to make up for the reduced stimulation. Eventually, the part of the brain in charge of other tasks, like remembering, has to use some of its resources to help the part of the brain responsible for hearing. This overworks the brain and causes cognitive decline to set in a lot faster than if the brain was able to process sounds normally.

Using hearing aids to prevent cognitive decline

The first line of defense against mental health problems and cognitive decline is hearing aids. When patients use hearing aids to address hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a lower risk of dementia and had improved cognitive function.
We would see fewer cases of cognitive decline and mental health problems if more people would just wear their hearing aids. Of all the people who require hearing aids, only between 15% and 30% actually use them, that’s between 5 and 9 million people. The World Health Organization estimates that there are nearly 50 million people who suffer from some kind of dementia. If hearing aids can reduce that number by even just a couple of million people, the quality of life for many individuals and families will improve exponentially.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for a consultation.


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.