Hearing loss affects more than just your ability to hear. According to a study done by otologist and epidemiologist Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins Medicine, adults that are older and have been diagnosed with hearing loss are more prone to having brain cognition problems than those adults that do not have hearing loss. Furthermore, those who do not treat their hearing loss can experience 32 percent greater cognitive decline than those who do.
The levels of declining brain function are related to the amount of hearing loss a person has. The brain may also want to dedicate extra amounts of energy to how sounds are being processed making it harder to hear and understand speech, while consequently, lowering the amounts of mental energy for other cognitive tasks. In addition, the brain shrinks 2 percent faster every year when hearing loss is not stimulated with a hearing aid.
Other studies have found that hearing loss is associated with poor cognitive functioning on non-verbal tests of memory, the risk of developing dementia, and increased rates of brain atrophy.
Dr. Lin estimates that around 27 million Americans over the age of 50 suffer from some form of hearing loss.
Treating hearing loss could delay declines in cognitive functions, but this is still unknown.