Many people in Central Europe suffer from hearing loss, but by no means all of those affected have a hearing aid. However, regular use of a hearing aid could significantly reduce their risk of premature death.
A new study involving experts from the University of Southern California examined the connections between hearing loss, hearing aid use and early death risk. The results have been published in the English-language journal “Lancet Healthy Longevity”.
Negative effects of hearing loss
People who actually need a hearing aid should definitely use it regularly, the researchers emphasize. Previous studies have already shown that untreated hearing loss has, among other things, negative effects such as social isolation and an increased risk of depression and dementia.
In the new study, the team examined whether the use of hearing aids can reduce the risk of premature death. To answer this question, the researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2012.
It was possible to identify almost 10,000 adult participants who had completed audiometry (a test to measure hearing ability) and filled out various questionnaires. The researchers checked the mortality of the participants over an average period of ten years.
Few affected people use hearing aids
It turned out that a total of 1,863 participants suffered from hearing loss. However, only 237 of these people regularly wore a hearing aid and 1,483 participants with hearing loss never wore a hearing aid, the team reports. There were also some participants who used a hearing aid less than once a month or even less often, which was classified as irregular use.
Reduced risk of early death
There was a significant consistent difference (nearly 25 percent) in the risk of premature death between people who regularly wear a hearing aid and participants who do not use such a device, the team reports.
The study also shows that there was no difference in the risk of premature death between participants who used hearing aids irregularly or never. According to experts, this suggests that occasional use of hearing aids does not have any benefits for life expectancy.
Why do hearing aids increase life expectancy?
Experts believe that longer life expectancy through regular hearing aid use is due to improvements in mental health and cognitive abilities associated with improved hearing, which in turn promotes overall health and thus increases life expectancy.
“We found that adults with hearing loss who regularly wear hearing aids have a 24 percent lower risk of death than those who never wear them. These results are interesting because they suggest that hearing aids play a protective role in people’s health and can prevent early death,” adds study author Dr. Janet Choi added in a press release. (as)