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Cognitive Decline Due to Hearing Loss May Begin Sooner Than Previously Thought

Previous studies have shown that cognitive abilities decline faster in older adults with hearing loss compared to older adults with normal hearing. Now a new study suggests that cognitive decline may start at the onset of hearing loss.

Researchers from Columbia University and George Washington University used data from the Hispanic Community Health Study and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, which included 6,541 participants with an average age of 59.4. Hearing and cognitive function tests were administered throughout the study periods.

The researchers found an inverse association between hearing and cognition. The largest decrease in cognitive function was found in participants whose hearing was just beginning to be impaired, with a loss of 10 dB. The previous threshold used for hearing loss was 25dB. This indicates that the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline may actually begin sooner than previously thought.

The study was published online ahead of print on November 14, 2019 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

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