A recent study published in The Lancet (Jan 2024) suggests that adopting the use of hearing aids could contribute to an extended lifespan. The research reveals a 24% reduction in the risk of premature death among individuals with hearing loss who consistently wear hearing aids compared to those who never use them.
Scientists think that hearing aids might have a protective effect, potentially enhancing mental health and cognitive functions, and mitigating the risk of early mortality. While prior studies have established a connection between hearing loss and increased mortality risk, this research marks the first time that wearing hearing aids has been linked to a reversal of this risk.
The study, conducted by researchers from Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California, involved analysing data from over 1,800 individuals experiencing hearing loss over a 13-year study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US. Surprisingly, only one in eight adults with hearing issues in the study regularly used hearing aids, while 1,483 never used them.
The data revealed that those who didn’t use hearing aids were nearly 25% more likely to face an early death compared to regular hearing aid users, irrespective of the severity of their hearing loss. Occasional use did not demonstrate a reduction in mortality risk, emphasizing the life-extending role of sustained adoption of hearing aid technology.
Lead researcher Dr. Janet Choi stated;
“We found that adults with hearing loss who regularly used hearing aids had a 24% lower risk of mortality than those who never wore them. These results are exciting because they suggest that hearing aids may play a protective role in people’s health and prevent early death.”
In the UK, according to the RNID 12 million adults suffer from deafness, hearing loss, or tinnitus, approximately seven million individuals could benefit from hearing aids, yet only around two million currently use them. The US researchers hope that their findings will encourage more people to consider adopting hearing aids.
The exact mechanism underlying the link between hearing loss, hearing aids, and mortality risk remains unclear. Nevertheless, previous research has indicated that the use of hearing aids can reduce levels of depression and dementia, potentially contributing to an improved quality of life.
Dr. Choi, who personally experienced hearing loss and did not start using a hearing aid until her 30s, is also engaged in developing an AI-powered database aimed at matching individuals with the most suitable hearing aid for their needs.
You can read more about the study in The Lancet HERE.