Older adults with hearing loss have an increased risk of earlier death compared to older adults without hearing loss, a study has found.
After adjustment for demographic characteristics and cardiovascular risk factors, the study found that hearing loss may be associated with a 39% and 21% increased risk of earlier death in individuals with moderate or severe hearing loss respectively, compared with individuals without hearing loss.
“In the simplest terms, the worse the patient’s hearing loss, the greater the risk of earlier death”, said lead author Kevin Contrera in a comment to the study.
The experts stress that the findings do not prove that hearing impairment in itself shortens people’s lives. The authors write that the potential mechanism for the findings include causal connections of hearing loss with cognitive, mental and physical functions.
The study was carried out by Kevin J. Contrera and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore in the US and consisted of 1,666 adults aged 70 or older who had undergone audiometric testing. The study was published in JAMA Otolaryngoly – Head and Neck Surgery.
Lower risk when using hearing aids
An Icelandic study has also shown that older men with hearing loss have a higher risk of dying earlier. Users of hearing aids do however not have higher risk of early death than other people. Hearing aid users had in general a significantly lower risk of dying early than those who did not use hearing aids.
Hearing aids increase quality of life
Using hearing aids also improves quality of life in most cases and reduces the negative impact of hearing loss.
Several surveys have shown that hearing aids improve overall quality of life for most users. Among the finding are that hearing aid users enjoy better overall health than non-users. People who use hearing aids also say that they feel less tired and exhausted. But one of the most beneficial effects of hearing aids is found in the users' social lives, taking part in group activities and family relationships.
Sources: www.onmedica.com, www.reuters.com , ageing.oxfordjournals.org and www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, www.ehima.com (EuroTrak) and the report “Evaluation of the Social and Economic Costs of Hearing Impairment", published by Hear-it AISBL