Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline – What is the Relationship?

by | 06/20/2022 | Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

Hearing loss is affected by many other medical conditions which we can discover through a general inspection of your brain and how it’s functioning

A recent report from Medical News Today states that the worse a patient’s hearing loss is, the worse their cognitive decline could be. Those with mild hearing loss have a 30% chance of developing cognitive issues, while those with severe hearing loss have a 54% chance.

Our best course of action is to identify problems as soon as possible.

With the right hearing treatment, much can be done to slow its progress.

We are seeing more proof of the definitive link between hearing loss and cognitive decline.

This is why audiologists never stop researching ways to regularly assess a patient’s cognitive function while also treating their hearing loss.

Essentially, having hearing loss puts you at a greater risk of developing issues with proper brain functions.

Don’t Audiologists Specialize in Only Ears?

As audiologists, we make it our duty to know everything that can negatively impact your hearing. Unfortunately, several medical challenges are associated with hearing loss.

The good news is that we can spot them with a general brain health check.

Many medical conditions can affect your health: 

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Eye impairment
  • Side effects of medications
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Poor diet

The closer eye we can keep on your hearing health, the more closely we can monitor any changes to your cognitive health as well.

In one long-term study, participants with a severe hearing loss who wore prescription hearing aids reduced their risk of cognitive decline by 17%.

Armed with this information, we recommend cognitive screening.

What Is Cognitive Screening?

This is an assessment that is FDA-approved and done on a special computer that evaluates cognitive function. This unique system is called Cognivue.

As a highly respected method in the medical world, researchers have been working on this for 15 years to produce the specific psychophysics necessary.

In a nutshell, Cognivue evaluates six cognitive areas:

  1. Executive Function/Attention – shape and motor perception
  2. Memory – letter and word memory
  3. Visuospatial – motor skills, visual acuity
  4. Naming/Language – letter and word perception
  5. Abstraction – being able to think about and follow abstract thoughts
  6. Delayed Recall – shape and motion memory

Cognitive screening also measures your physical reaction time and speed at processing what is said or happening.

Healthy Cognition Is Key to Leading a Fulfilling Life. Schedule An Essential Cognitive Screening with An Expert Today

How Does Cognivue Work?

The test is relatively short, only taking 15 minutes, and you can do it all yourself. 

It begins with an introductory video and has you do two practice sessions first. Then the 10-minute evaluation begins, and you work through the prompts. Once completed, a one-minute video will play, which explains the next step.

This is not a test with a list of right and wrong answers. There’s just a wheel you turn to select the picture you think makes the most sense to what is being referenced.

Once completed, your audiologist gets an immediate overview of the results to review with you, with suggested customized follow-up steps.

What are the Advantages of Cognitive Screening?

Cognitive screening looks for additional health aspects that impact your hearing. This is great because we can diagnose and treat anything that comes up right away.

Our office in Midland, TX, is equipped to handle many conditions, or we can refer you to a nearby specialist if need be.

  • We can test further for anything we find and will possibly refer you for treatment for other aspects of your health.
  • We understand the scope of your hearing loss better because we have all the data needed to see what might be affecting it.
  • We can detect early signs of cognitive decline that you and those closest to you might not have noticed.
  • A yearly cognitive assessment is recommended to give us an excellent view of your cognitive abilities. It also allows us to monitor for any changes so we can adjust your hearing treatment to match them.
  • The assessment is private and done by you alone.

How to Get a Cognitive Screening?

It can be easy to miss the signs of cognitive decline, but we’re here to help with that. Book a Cognitive screening for yourself or a loved one if you are concerned and see how it can help the future of your hearing.

We care about your hearing and overall health at All About Hearing, and we’re here anytime you need us. Give us a call at 432-689-2220 with any questions. 

We look forward to helping as soon as possible.

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Dr. Joycelin Lopez, Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Joycelin grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida. Initially, she earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the state’s university. Then following graduation, she became a learning specialist, working with the hard of hearing. This experience sparked her curiosity in audiology. She returned to the University of Florida for graduate studies, where she gained her doctor of audiology degree. This education took her to North Carolina, where she completed an externship that focused on balance evaluations and central auditory processing. Her decision to move to Midland in late 2020 showcases her spirit of adventure. But also, it demonstrates her determination to find and assist people who can benefit from her professional expertise. Besides audiology, Dr. Joycelin has a passion for art, having taken classes all her life. Mostly, she works with watercolors, but she also has an interest in digital animation.

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