Hearing Aids May Protect Against Dementia
A preliminary body of data suggests that wearing hearing aids may assist in keeping the human brain at a youthful and healthy age, according to the findings of a study of the scientific literature that was conducted in a methodical manner.
When researchers in Singapore looked at the results of eight different long-term studies on adults who have difficulty hearing, they discovered that participants who wore hearing aids had a 19 percent lower risk of showing signs of cognitive deterioration compared to those who did not wear hearing aids.
Hearing aid use was associated with a three percent improvement in participants’ performance on short-term cognitive tasks, according to the findings of a follow-up meta-analysis of 11 articles on hearing loss.
The findings indicate that there may be significant benefits to the brain from using hearing aids; nevertheless, the authors stress that further exploration will require rigorous randomized clinical studies.
Hearing loss and cognitive decline have been linked together in the past, so this is not a new finding. Loss of hearing is, in point of fact, regarded as one of the most important modifiable risk factors for dementia, alongside obesity, smoking, and lack of physical activity.
In 2016, researchers from Harvard University discovered that patients with hearing loss who wore hearing aids scored higher and completed tests of memory and attention in a shorter amount of time.
The findings prompted the researchers to ponder whether or not hearing aids were contributing in any way to the slowing of cognitive decline. In contrast, the findings of a comprehensive study conducted in 2021 were contradictory to that idea. The analysis included some trials that showed hearing aids had no effect on cognitive decline, while others showed hearing aids did have an effect.
The findings of the latest meta-analysis are more conclusive, and they point to the possibility that music is beneficial to the brain. The reason for this is still a mystery, but future research may put a number of hypotheses to the test.
Hearing aids have the effect of making sounds louder and clearer for individuals who have difficulty hearing, and this impact may be rebuilding or strengthening neural connections that have been damaged.
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These devices, much like prescription glasses, need to be individually tuned to a person’s specific type of hearing loss, and there is a possibility that this can reshape certain parts of the brain. Similar to the way that prescription glasses correct vision problems, these devices correct hearing problems.
Sound plays an important role in many aspects of human interaction. Memory, as well as the ability to speak and understand language, are all intricately connected in the brain. Damage to the parts of the brain that are responsible for language regulation is also highly connected with dementia. Hearing aids have the potential to keep certain parts of our brains active by acting as a form of exercise for specific areas, just like a muscle might.
According to a second theory, individuals who have difficulty hearing expend a greater amount of cognitive energy in order to listen, which leaves them with little energy to concentrate on or retain the content of what they are actually listening to. In this scenario, hearing aids could lessen the overall cognitive strain of a person, making it easier for them to concentrate and remember information.
Hearing loss, according to still another notion, makes it more difficult to engage with other people, which might result in loneliness. Loneliness is another risk factor that appears to be associated with dementia.
Researchers anticipate that the number of people suffering from dementia will increase threefold by the year 2050. Dementia is already the top cause of mortality and disability across the globe.
Hearing loss is connected with an increase in risk that is 9 percent higher. Therefore, if hearing aids may slow cognitive decline by even a little bit, their potential benefit could be enormous.
How many different kinds of hearing aids are there?
In-the-ear (ITE), back-of-the-ear (BTE), in-the-canal (ITC), receiver-in-the-ear (RITE), and CROS/BiCROS.
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