Hearing loss and dementia


Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    12 January 2023

Older adults with moderate to severe hearing loss are at risk of developing dementia, according to a study published online January 10 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.1,2 Persons using hearing aids had lower risk of dementia.


In this study, Huang et al from the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health investigated the association of hearing loss and use of hearing aids with dementia among 2413 participants selected from the ongoing National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) database. The study subjects were aged ≥60 years and nearly half were older than 80 years. Information was collected from the participants via interviews and at-home testing using a portable audiometer. One third of the subjects (33.4%) had normal hearing, 36.7% had mild hearing loss, while nearly 30% had moderate-to-severe loss. Participants with moderate-to-severe hearing loss were more likely to be older, male and less educated.


The overall prevalence of dementia in the study was 10.2%. Data analysis showed a clear link between dementia and hearing loss, which increased as the severity of hearing impairment increased. Among persons with no hearing impairment, the prevalence of dementia was 6.1%. Among patients with mild hearing loss, the prevalence was ~9%. But among those with moderate-to-severe hearing loss, the prevalence was 16.5%. Compared to those with normal hearing, 853 participants with moderate to severe hearing loss had 61% higher risk of developing dementia with prevalence ratio 1.61. However in this group, the use of hearing aids reduced dementia risk by 32% (prevalence ratio 0.68).


These findings call for public health policy makers to improve access to screening for hearing impairment and also availability of hearing aids.




  1. Huang AR, et al. Hearing loss and dementia prevalence in older adults in the US. JAMA. 2023 Jan 10;329(2):171-173. doi: 10.1001/jama.2022.20954.
  2. https://www.medpagetoday.com/neurology/dementia/102578, dated Jan. 10, 2023. Accessed on Jan. 11, 2023.


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