Dementia and hearing loss share radiologic and biologic findings that might explain their coexistence, especially in the elderly population. Brain atrophy has been observed in both conditions, as well as the presence of areas of gliosis. The brain atrophy is usually focal; it is located in the temporal lobe in patients with hearing loss, while it involves different part of brain in patients with dementia. Radiological studies have shown white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) in both conditions. WMHs have been correlated with the inability to correctly understand words in elderly persons with normal auditory thresholds and, the identification of these lesion in brain magnetic resonance imaging studies has been linked with an increased risk of developing cognitive loss. In addition to WMHs, some anatomopathological studies identified the presence of brain gliosis in the elderly’s brain. The cause-effect link between hearing loss and dementia is still unknown, despite they might share some common findings. The aim of this systematic review is to analyze radiologic and biomolecular findings that these two conditions might share, identify a common pathological basis, and discuss the effects of hearing aids on prevention and treatment of cognitive decline in elderly patients with hearing loss.
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