Longer life with the aid of hearing aids

Study links hearing aid use to lower mortality in U.S. adults with hearing loss.

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Wearing hearing aids can cut the risk of death by nearly 25%, says a recent study from Keck Medicine of USC. Despite 40 million Americans having hearing loss, only 1 in 10 who need hearing aids use them. The study suggests considering hearing aids as a New Year’s resolution for those who should be using them.

Janet Choi, MD, MPH, an otolaryngologist with Keck Medicine and the study’s lead researcher, said, “We found that adults with hearing loss who regularly used hearing aids had a 24% lower risk of mortality than those who never wore them. These results are exciting because they suggest that hearing aids may protect people’s health and prevent early death.”

Until now, little research examined if hearing aids could reduce the risk of death. The latest study, the most comprehensive to date, explores the link between hearing loss, hearing aid use, and mortality in the U.S. Based on data from 1999-2012, researchers tracked nearly 10,000 adults over an average 10-year period. 

Among 1,863 adults with hearing loss, 237 were regular hearing aid users, wearing them at least once a week for five hours. The study sheds light on hearing aids’ potential benefits in improving life expectancy. 

Researchers discovered a 25% lower mortality risk in regular hearing aid users than never-users. This difference is held regardless of the degree of hearing loss, age, ethnicity, income, education, and medical history. 

No significant mortality risk difference was found between non-regular and never users, suggesting occasional hearing aid use may not extend life. While the study didn’t delve into the why, recent research links hearing aid use to reduced depression and dementia. Improved mental health and cognition from better hearing contribute to a healthier life and increased lifespan.

Choi hopes the study encourages more people to use hearing aids despite challenges like cost and stigma. She understands these issues personally, having dealt with hearing loss herself. Choi is working on an AI-driven database to match hearing aids to individual needs and advocates for more extensive studies to understand better the link between hearing aid use and lower mortality risk, promoting better hearing care.

Wearing hearing aids has been linked to a nearly 25% lower mortality risk, according to a study. This finding underscores the potential benefits of hearing aids in improving life expectancy, irrespective of factors like hearing loss, age, and demographics. While occasional use may not extend life, regular use shows a consistent positive impact. The study emphasizes the need for greater awareness and adoption of hearing aids to enhance overall health and potentially increase lifespan.

Journal reference:

  1. Janet S Choi, Meredith E Adams et al., Association between hearing aid use and mortality in adults with hearing loss in the USA: a mortality follow-up study of a cross-sectional cohort. The Lancet. DOI: 10.1016/S2666-7568(23)00232-5.

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