Health Clinician Corner

Improve Hearing with Hearing Aids and Prevent Dementia (May-June 2023 The SAGE)

Hearing loss directly affects 23% of Americans aged 12 years and older. The majority of these individuals have mild hearing loss; however, moderate to severe hearing loss is more prevalent among individuals aged 80 years old and up.  

Hearing health is an important measure of overall wellness.  Hearing loss can lead to other health problems, such as depression, balance issues, and even dementia.  Using a hearing aid can not only improve hearing, it can also improve brain function and quality of life.

For people with mild to moderate hearing loss, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are available as of October 17, 2022.  They are FDA-regulated medical devices that can be bought directly from the manufacturers or retail stores.  These hearing aids do not require hearing exam, prescription, or appointment with audiologist to purchase.  They generally are less expensive and easy to use.

With moderate to severe hearing loss, prescription hearing aids are still the way to go because these devices include the most advanced hearing technologies and the specialists can customize them to individual needs.  They are more costly and insurance coverage can be limited.  

A study published in JAMA findings concluded that dementia occurred least often among participants with normal hearing.  More often among participants with mild hearing loss.  And most often among participants with moderate to severe hearing loss.  The study also found that participants with moderate to severe hearing loss could significantly reduce their risk of dementia simply by using hearing aids.  

Don’t let hearing loss increases your risk of dementia.  If you cannot hear well, get a hearing aid.  If you have a hearing aid, wear it.  If your hearing aid isn’t working, fix it.  

References used in the article