Hearing aids may reduce risk of early death

Using hearing aids can help people with hearing difficulties live longer, finds a US study published in The Lancet Healthy Longevity.

Hearing loss affects about 1·6 billion people globally and is estimated to increase to 2.5 billion by 2050. But factors such as cost, stigma and difficulty finding the right devices prevent most people from using hearing aids.

Previous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to social isolation, depression, dementia and early death. To find out if using hearing aids can reduce the risk of early death, researchers used data from almost 10,000 adults–20 years and older–who had completed audiometry evaluations and followed them for 10 years.

Of the 1,863 adults who suffered hearing loss, only 237 people were regular users of hearing aids, 1,483 people were non-users and the rest non-regular users. Those who regularly used hearing aids had a 24 per cent lower risk of mortality than those who never wore them, regardless of factors such as severity of hearing loss, age, ethnicity, income, education and medical history. There was no difference in mortality risk between non-regular users and non users.

Improved hearing can enhance mental health and cognition which will promote better overall health and improve life span, the study suggested.