September 21, 2022, by Helen Henshaw

Hearing Loss and Cognitive Impairment

Hearing loss and cognitive impairment are both extremely common, especially in older adults. Untreated hearing loss has been identified as the leading modifiable risk factor for the development of dementia in mid-life.

Currently, one in five adults in the UK live with hearing loss. It is estimated that 12 million people in the UK have hearing loss. This number is expected to rise to 14.2 million people by 2035.

On the other hand, dementia is estimated to affect almost one million adults in the UK, rising to 1.6 million people by 2040.

Not only do both conditions have a significant impact on an individual’s wellbeing, their carers and social network can also be affected.

As both of these conditions can present similarly, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish the true cause of these symptoms over time. Examples of overlapping symptoms include difficulty in understanding and following conversations, social withdrawal and isolation. Therefore, patients can sometimes be misdiagnosed which may cause a delay in providing the correct treatment, which may then further impact an individual’s quality of life.

A hotly debated topic in this field is whether cognitive screening tests should be used in audiology clinics to aid early detection of cognitive impairment or dementia for onward referral, and/or to help guide audiological counselling and hearing loss management.  Cognitive screening tests are short and quick tests which can be used to check how well the brain is functioning. They are designed to test our cognition (or thinking abilities), such as memory, language, judgement, and the ability to learn new things.

We are interested in what you have to say!

We are interested on hearing from patients and the public on their opinions of cognitive screening in audiology clinics.

We are recruiting participants to take part in a short survey to tell us about your thoughts.  The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete.

To take part, please contact Dr Emma Broome at  or Puntrika Tannirandorn at

Thank you.

Puntrika Tannirandorn joins the team to deliver this research project via the INSPIRE INSRIP initiative.

“INSPIRE is a nationwide programme supported by the Wellcome Trust to engage medical students in research.”

“INSRIP is a new initiative which gives interested students the opportunity to do a research project with renowned academics at the University of Nottingham.”

Posted in Hearing lossPublic engagementUncategorized