Results from a large Taiwanese study add to the growing body of evidence tying hearing loss to dementia. The authors emphasized that hearing loss is a highly modifiable risk factor.

In a study of over 16,000 adults, participants with hearing loss had a significant risk of dementia when compared to participants without the condition. A subgroup aged 45 to 64 years old had the highest risk, compared with two groups of older individuals, investigators said. 

Even mild hearing loss increases the long-term risks of cognitive decline and dementia, wrote study co-author Chin-Mei Liu, Ph.D., of National Taiwan Normal University. However, reducing the impact of hearing loss has been shown to have the highest potential for impact on reducing dementia risk when compared with other modifiable risk factors, he reported.

“This finding suggests that the implementation of early hearing protection, [hearing loss] screening, and the use of hearing aids may help to mitigate this potential risk factor for dementia,” Liu concluded.

Other modifiable risk factors for dementia include hypertension, obesity, depression, diabetes, and smoking.

Read the study