(VitalNews.org) – A new study showed a correlation between the regular use of hearing aids and a decrease in death rates in U.S. adults.
These findings have shown just how important it is for those who need hearing aids to get them and for them to be easily accessible. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2050, 7 million people will be affected by hearing loss enough to require hearing aids. Dr. Frank Lin, a director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at Johns Hopkins stated that everyone will eventually deal with hearing loss and that “it’s inevitable.”
The main causes of hearing loss are attributed to exposure to loud sounds as well as the inevitable hearing loss that comes with old age.
In a study of 10,000 adults, they followed 1,700 who had hearing loss, and only 13% of those with hearing loss wore hearing aids regularly. After 10 years, they considered those same adults, and it turns out that regular hearing aid users died less in comparison to those who did not use hearing aids or did not use them regularly.
This led to the conclusion that hearing aids can contribute to a lower death rate. Janet Choi, an otolaryngology-head and neck surgeon said, “I always had tremendous interest in how hearing loss impacts a lot of health outcomes, and also wanted to see if hearing aids can actually modify it.” She was born with hearing loss and started wearing hearing aids as an adult.
With this finding comes concern about how accessible hearing aids are to Americans. One pair of hearing aids can cost around $4,500 and it needs to be replaced every few years, which means it’s not a one-time expense. This is of course not necessarily doable for some Americans and in most cases, it’s not covered by insurance either.
Choi explained some other issues with providing people hearing aids; she discussed encounters she’s had with patients who needed hearing aids but didn’t believe they needed them yet.
She says, “A lot of people come to me with hearing loss and communication difficulties but they’re not willing to try hearing aids, they’ll say, ‘I don’t think I’m there yet’ or ‘I don’t want to look old.”
She also says that it’s the most overlooked symptom in primary care, which is part of the reason that many might not know about or understand their hearing loss once it’s diagnosed.
The studies can’t exactly explain why there is a correlation between hearing aids and a longer lifespan or a lower death rate, but it’s a correlation that must be studied to discover more about how this can affect people.
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