Tinnitus and Dementia: Recent Studies & Findings

Last update on Nov, 30, 2023

Sounds of ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring...

Have you ever heard a constant ringing in your ears? One minute, you're talking to a friend over coffee; the next, your conversation is interrupted by an irritating ringing or hissing sound.

This phenomenon is known as tinnitus, and it affects more people than you think. In fact, medical experts estimate that up to 25% of adults experience it.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus Explained

Tinnitus causes you to hear sounds that are not created by external sources, meaning you (not those around you) are only affected by it.

You may hear sounds like ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, or other noises that can vary in loudness.

For some people, it's a temporary annoyance and will go away on its own, while for others, it may be more persistent, disrupting your routine and quality of life. If tinnitus lasts more than 3 months, it's considered chronic and can worsen due to various factors, such as exposure to loud noise, hearing loss, and stress.

Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus can occur for many different reasons, including:

  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Ear infections
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Certain medications
  • Problems with the blood vessels or nerves in the ear

In many cases, tinnitus may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. As mentioned, hearing loss is a common cause of tinnitus and it's rare to experience its effects without some degree of hearing loss present. 

Is Tinnitus a Precursor to Dementia

Recent studies suggest a potential link between tinnitus and dementia. However, the connection is still unclear and more research on this topic is required to support this claim.

What we do know is that hearing loss is a known risk factor of cognitive decline and that people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss. However, there is no evidence to suggest that tinnitus itself has any effect on cognitive decline.

While researchers are still trying to fully understand the relationship between tinnitus and dementia, some studies have suggested that people with severe tinnitus may have a higher risk of developing early-stage dementia. However, this is likely because individuals who experience severe tinnitus are much more likely to have severe hearing loss

Does Tinnitus Cause Dementia?

There is currently no evidence to support this claim, as more research is needed to determine whether tinnitus is a precursor to dementia. However, here's what we do know:

Tinnitus is, more often than not, a sign of another condition, including hearing loss, and studies continue to suggest that hearing loss is closely tied to an increasing risk of dementia.

How Hearing loss can impact your brain health:

Increased cognitive load

When you experience hearing loss, your brain has to put in more effort to decipher the meaning behind the sounds you hear, resulting in increased cognitive load.

Simply put, your brain is working harder than usual to comprehend the auditory information around you.

Social isolation

Hearing loss can significantly impact an individual's social life and mental well-being. One of the consequences of hearing loss is a tendency for people to withdraw from group activities.

This withdrawal can lead to reduced social interaction, lack of cognitive stimulation, and even depression.

Missed sounds

When you have hearing loss, your brain doesn't receive all the signals it needs from your ears, causing you to miss certain sounds.

Can You Treat Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is not a condition or disease but a symptom that changes are occurring in the ear or brain; therefore, visiting a hearing care provider for an evaluation may be your best next step.

Doing so will allow your provider to determine if you have hearing loss and create a personalized treatment plan.

DID YOU KNOW…hearing aids can effectively manage noise-induced or age-related hearing loss. They may also relieve tinnitus by making sounds louder and reducing the prominence of the phantom noise.

Additionally, studies suggest that hearing aids may help slow cognitive decline in people most at risk of developing dementia.

Getting Started with Amplifon

At Amplifon Hearing Health Care, we provide members with a comprehensive suite of resources to help them take a proactive step in their hearing health journeys.

  • Our online hearing quiz and virtual hearing screening are two quick, easy, and free options to assess your hearing ability from home. It's a great starting point to determine if you need to schedule an appointment with a hearing care provider.
  • Using our check your benefits tool, we'll help you better understand your insurance plan options, including what services and treatments are covered and how much you'll need to pay out of pocket.
  • We also offer a wide network of providers allowing you to find local hearing care professionals in your community.
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Our team is committed to helping you take control of your hearing health and rediscover your favorite sounds without interruption. Get started by checking your benefits now!

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