The usage of hearing aids is linked to a decreased risk of subsequent cognitive decline and dementia, according to a new review of studies.
Previous studies have found hearing loss to be one of the biggest risk factors associated with cognitive decline and it has been unclear if devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants have had a beneficial impact on cognition, pointed out scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS).
A growing number of studies are revealing that people with dementia begin showing signs of cognitive decline, sometimes several years before an official diagnosis.
While some of these signs are often subtle, researchers said spotting them can be a step towards screening those who are at the greatest risk and providing early interventions.
In the new research review, published recently in the journal JAMA Neurology, scientists analysed eight long-term studies of hard-of-hearing adults, that had over 126,000 participants, to find the long-term association between hearing aid use and cognitive decline.
Researchers like NUS’s Brian Sheng Yep Yeo found the use of these implants by the participants was linked to a nearly 20 per cent reduction in the risk of dementia and cognitive decline over a duration of 2-25 years.
“The usage of hearing restorative devices by participants with hearing loss was associated with a 19 per cent decrease in hazards of long-term cognitive decline,” scientists wrote in the study.
The study also found the use of cochlear implants and hearing aids was linked to a 3 per cent improvement in cognitive test scores among the participants.
“Meta-analysis of 11 studies with 568 participants studying the association between hearing restoration and short-term cognitive test score changes revealed a 3 per cent improvement in short-term cognitive test scores after the use of hearing aids,” the researchers wrote.
Based on the findings, they said physicians should “strongly encourage” their patients with hearing loss to adopt such devices.
However, the reason behind the observation in the study remains unclear.
The scientists called for the cognitive benefit of such hearing restorative devices to be examined further in future clinical trials.