Hearing aids ‘may help you live longer’

30 January 2024

Hearing aids ‘may help you live longer’

Wearing hearing aid devices helps reverse the risk of dementia and lowers the risk of death, a new Lancet study finds

Using a hearing aid may help you live longer, a Lancet study suggests. Data indicate that the risk of early death for somebody with hearing loss is reduced by 24 per cent if they regularly wear an aid compared with not using one.

Scientists say that the devices may have a protective effect and could help stave off death by boosting mental health and cognition. Previous studies have shown that hearing loss increases the risk of early death, and the condition has also been linked to an increased risk of dementia.

However, this study is the first time it has been shown that wearing a hearing aid helps reverse this risk and lowers the risk of death.

Scientists from Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California analysed data from more than 1,800 people who had hearing loss from a 13-year study run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.

But just one in eight adults with hearing issues in the study were regular hearing aid wearers, and 1,483 never used one. Data found that people who shunned the gadgets were almost a quarter more likely to die than regular users, irrespective of how extreme the hearing loss was.

The study found that occasional use did not reduce the risk of death, indicating that only sustained adoption of the technology has a life-extending role.

“We found that adults with hearing loss who regularly used hearing aids had a 24 per cent lower risk of mortality than those who never wore them,” study lead researcher Dr Janet Choi said.

“These results are exciting because they suggest that hearing aids may play a protective role in people’s health and prevent early death.”

According to the hearing loss charity RNID, 12 million adults in the UK are deaf and have hearing loss or tinnitus. Approximately seven million people could benefit from hearing aids, but only about two million use them.

The researchers hope the findings, published in The Lancet Healthy Longevity journal, will encourage more people to wear hearing aids. The mechanism underpinning why hearing loss and hearing aids impact the risk of death is unknown, but previous work has shown hearing aid use lowers levels of depression and dementia.

Dr Choi believes improvements in mental health and cognition with improved hearing can promote better overall health, which may enhance life span.

Social issues remain a barrier to hearing aid uptake with stigma, discretion of device and difficulty finding devices often cited problems. Crystal Rolfe, director of health at RNID, said: “Hearing aids bring enormous benefits for people with hearing loss. Research shows that wearing hearing aids may reduce the risk of cognitive decline, and it is well-known that they positively affect physical, social, emotional and mental well-being.

Now hearing aids may even help people with hearing loss live longer, and we would welcome more research to understand the link. If you think you might have hearing loss, make checking your hearing your new year’s resolution – the benefits could be limitless.”

Dr Choi, who has no hearing in her left ear and did not wear a hearing aid until her 30s, is also working on an AI-powered database that helps match people with the best hearing aid for them.

If you or a loved one would a hearing assessment with our professional hearing aid audiologist, please contact your nearest branch: https://www.arnoldhearingspecialists.com/contact-us

Get in touch and see how Arnold Hearing can help you, or find your nearest branch.

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