Brickmont Assisted Living Blog

Unraveling the Link Between Tinnitus and Dementia

Posted by The Brickmont Assisted Living Team on Jul 1, 2024 8:00:00 AM | 4 minute read

Otolaryngologist doctor checking senior womans ear using otoscope

Both tinnitus and dementia can significantly impact the quality of life of older adults. Understanding these conditions, their symptoms, and their potential connections is crucial for promoting better health outcomes. This is especially important for families and caregivers who play a pivotal role in supporting the well-being of their older loved ones.

Below, our team at Brickmont Assisted Living explores what tinnitus is and how this condition is linked to early-onset dementia. 

Understanding Tinnitus and Dementia

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is characterized by the perception of noise or ringing in the ears when no external sound is present. This condition can be intermittent or constant and varies in pitch and intensity among those affected. 

Tinnitus affects 7% to 20% of the general population. One study found that its prevalence reached as high as 26.7% among individuals aged 65 to 84 in the United States.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of cognitive impairments, including memory loss, difficulty in thinking, problem-solving, and language abilities. Dementia is progressive, meaning it typically worsens over time. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. Common symptoms of dementia include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty in completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

The Link Between Tinnitus and Dementia

Recent studies by Frontiers in Neuroscience have begun to show a possible association between tinnitus and dementia. Research suggests that chronic tinnitus may impact brain function, potentially leading to cognitive decline. This connection could stem from the shared risk factors between the two conditions, such as age-related hearing loss and vascular issues. Additionally, the mental strain and reduced quality of life caused by persistent tinnitus may exacerbate cognitive decline, leading to an increased risk of dementia.

Although the exact mechanisms aren't fully understood, some theories propose that the constant auditory disturbances of tinnitus could lead to stress and sleep disturbances, and changes in brain structure that may contribute to cognitive impairment. A study that monitored 639 adults over nearly 12 years discovered significant correlations between hearing loss and dementia risk. Mild hearing loss was associated with doubling the risk of dementia, moderate loss tripled the risk, and severe hearing impairment increased the likelihood of developing dementia by fivefold.

A holistic approach is crucial to safeguarding those living with tinnitus from cognitive impairments. This strategy should encompass effective tinnitus management via sound therapy and counseling to help individuals cope with the emotional and psychological impacts of tinnitus. 

Routine medical check-ups play a vital role in monitoring cognitive health and detecting potential issues early. Additionally, medications should be reviewed with healthcare providers to identify any cognitive side effects or interactions that might exacerbate tinnitus symptoms. 

Addressing Key Questions

Is Tinnitus a Precursor of Dementia?

While current research suggests a potential link between tinnitus and dementia, it's important to note that tinnitus itself is not definitively established as a precursor to dementia. Instead, tinnitus may serve as an early warning signal for underlying health issues that could contribute to cognitive decline. Regular health check-ups and addressing tinnitus symptoms early can be crucial steps in monitoring and managing overall cognitive health.

Does Tinnitus Cause Dementia?

There is no concrete evidence to assert that tinnitus directly causes dementia. However, the correlation between the two conditions warrants attention. Tinnitus may indirectly contribute to cognitive decline through its impact on sleep, stress levels, and overall brain function. Therefore, managing tinnitus effectively and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can play significant roles in reducing risks.


Throughout our Brickmont Assisted Living communities, we're dedicated to providing personalized care that nurtures and empowers individuals to live their best lives. If you or a loved one is experiencing tinnitus or any signs of cognitive decline, we invite you to reach out to our compassionate team for support and guidance.


Topics: Memory Care, Health

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