Association Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in Hispanic and Latino Adults Over 50: A 7-Year Study

hearing loss cognition latino
March 23, 2024

A recent study published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head Neck Surgery has shed light on the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline among middle-aged and older Hispanic and Latino adults.

The study aimed to explore whether hearing loss is associated with cognitive outcomes, such as performance, change, and mild cognitive impairment, over a period of 7 years.

Exploring Hearing Loss and Cognitive Outcomes

The research, conducted as a cohort study, involved 6,113 Hispanic and Latino adults aged 50 years and older from four major US cities. Participants underwent cognitive assessments at two separate visits approximately 7 years apart.

Hearing loss was defined as a pure-tone average greater than 25 dB hearing loss in the better ear.

The findings revealed that hearing loss was significantly associated with worse cognitive performance at the 7-year follow-up. Specifically, individuals with hearing loss exhibited lower scores in measures of global cognition, learning, memory, and word fluency compared to those without hearing loss. Moreover, hearing loss was linked to greater adverse change, particularly in processing speed, equivalent to over 5 years of cognitive decline due to aging.

Those with hearing loss showed lower scores in global cognition, learning, memory, and word fluency, along with accelerated decline in processing speed, equivalent to over 5 years of cognitive aging.

Despite these associations with cognitive performance and change, the study did not find a significant link between hearing loss and the prevalence of mild cognitive impairment.

Results Highlight Need for Prevention

The researchers emphasized the importance of these findings, highlighting the need for preventive measures, assessments, and treatments for hearing loss within the Hispanic and Latino community. With hearing loss being a potentially modifiable risk factor, addressing hearing health could potentially prevent long-term cognitive difficulties in this population.

The research also raised questions about the role of ototoxic exposures and the potential benefits of hearing aid use in mitigating cognitive decline associated with hearing loss. Future studies are warranted to explore these aspects further and to evaluate intervention strategies for preserving cognitive health in individuals with hearing loss.


  • Stickel AMMendoza ATarraf W, et al. Hearing Loss and Associated 7-Year Cognitive Outcomes Among Hispanic and Latino Adults. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online March 21, 2024. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2024.0184


Source: JAMA 

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