TRIO Best Practice articles are brief, structured reviews designed to provide the busy clinician with a handy outline and reference for day-to-day clinical decision making. The ENTtoday summaries below include the Background and Best Practice sections of the original article. To view the complete Laryngoscope article, visit Laryngoscope.
Explore This IssueOctober 2021
Dementia is a devastating disease and public health concern that affects ~50 million individuals globally, a number projected to triple by 2050. A growing body of research has identified an independent association between age-related hearing loss (ARHL) and both dementia and impaired cognition, as well as other conditions of the elderly (e.g., depression, loneliness, increased risk of falls, and frailty). Given limited efficacy of existing pharmacologic treatments for dementia, treating risk factors is a crucial strategy. A severely undertreated and highly prevalent disease in the elderly, ARHL is a compelling potential target for preventative strategies for cognitive decline and dementia. In this Best Practice, we ask if hearing aid use has a positive impact on cognitive decline and dementia.
Though the evidence is encouraging, clear causal linkage between hearing loss and cognition has not been established. Furthermore, given the slow nature of cognitive decline, establishing benefit of hearing aids on cognition will require well-controlled long-term studies. In the interval, hearing aid usage for prevention of cognitive decline is warranted given the low risk and strong theoretical benefit of hearing aids. Well-designed randomized controlled trials with accurate measures of hearing loss, hearing aid usage, and cognitive performance (of a variety of domains over time) are required to demonstrate conclusive evidence that hearing aids help attenuate or prevent cognitive decline in individuals with hearing loss.