January 05, 2024
Hearing Aids May Boost Longevity But Must Be Used Regularly
A new study has found that restoring hearing loss with hearing aids may lengthen people’s lives.
Dr. Janet Choi, an otolaryngologist with Keck Medicine of USC, wanted to evaluate whether restoring hearing with hearing aids could increase the chances of living longer, so she and her colleagues tracked the status of nearly 1,900 adults who had been shown to have hearing loss during screenings.
They found that patients using hearing aids regularly had a 24% lower risk of mortality compared to the group who never used hearing aids. The researchers had hypothesized this would be the case, given previous studies pointing to the negative impacts of untreated hearing loss, but they did not expect such a big difference in mortality risk.
The study, which was published in The Lancet Healthy Longevity Wednesday, adds to the evidence of benefits from hearing aids found in prior research but does not necessarily prove that it’s the hearing aids that lead to longer life — it could be that people who regularly use hearing aids are also more likely to stave off isolation, remain more active or have reduced risk of falls, which could explain the increased longevity. The effect held up even when the researchers took into account differences such as age, ethnicity, education and medical history.
Approximately 40 million adults in the U.S. have hearing loss, but most don’t use hearing aids. Given the benefits, Choi says it’s stunning how few people with hearing loss wear hearing aids regularly – just 12%, according to her study. Another striking finding was that the people in the study who had hearing aids but didn’t use them regularly were as likely to die prematurely as those who never used them.
“We now have more affordable over-the-counter hearing aids thanks to President Biden’s policies,” said President Roach. “They make an enormous difference for the hearing-impaired, both socially and in their overall health – we just need to use them.”