PODCAST: “THE EFFECTS OF HEARING LOSS ON COGNITIVE DECLINE” (JAMA REVIEWS)

Even limited hearing loss might be associated with cognitive decline. If true, early intervention with hearing aids might help people have better cognitive performance. 

Michael Johns III, MD, online editor for JAMA Otolaryngology, speaks with Justin Golub, MD, MS, assistant professor of otolaryngology at Columbia University, whose research has shown that very mild hearing loss can be associated with cognitive disability.

COMMENTARY

Hearing loss and cognitive ability decline together as we age, starting earlier in some people than others.

LIVING A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE-with good SLEEP, DIET, EXERCISE and COGNITIVE STIMULATION -seems to help benefit almost everything, including hearing, while a poor life style, neglecting the 4 Pillars, smoking, and drinking alcohol to excess seems to hasten our aging.

Certain medications, often taken to treat the results of a poor life style, can also harm our hearing.

LOUD SOUNDS (such as AMPLIFIED MUSIC), especially if prolonged, are particularly bad. SOUND POLLUTION contaminates the modern world as much as industries‘ excesses. I would often wear ear plugs to Football games (108 dB on my meter) and even in row 4 of the Symphony.

Once damaged, the delicate HAIR CELLS of our inner ear don’t grow back, although medical science once again is working feverishly to save us from ourselves.

Hearing aids can now be programmed to compensate for our particular pattern of frequency loss.

The premise made in the above article and podcast, that decreased HEARING is accompanied by (and Causes?)decreased COGNITION could be supported by a study demonstrating that Improved hearing restores the cognition. I understand that early results may suggest a cognitive benefit of hearing aids.

But PRESERVING BOTH with healthy living would of course be better- at least in my opinion.

Prevention, unfortunately, is a very hard sell in a world of costly medical treatments, where we are protected from directly confronting those costs by ever-expanding insurance. How about Medical savings accounts?

—Dr. C.

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