Hearing aid use lowers risk of death
For people with hearing loss, the risk of death is lower among those who regularly use a hearing aid, researchers reported on Jan. 3, 2024 in The Lancet Healthy Longevity.
“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,” said lead investigator Janet Choi, MD, MPH, an otolaryngologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. “These results are exciting because they suggest that hearing aids may play a protective role in people’s health and prevent early death.”
As background, the authors noted that hearing loss is a known factor for negative health outcomes and mortality. But to date it has not been established whether hearing aid use is associated with lower mortality.
The researchers evaluated data on 9,885 adults (age 20 years and older) who participated in the (USA) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2012 and completed audiometry and hearing aid use questionnaires, revealing 1,863 adults with hearing loss.
Main measures included hearing loss, hearing aid use (never users, non-regular users, and regular users) and death (up to 2019).
Of the subjects with hearing loss, 237 were regular hearing aid users (i.e. wearing a hearing aid at least once a week, five hours a week or half the time) and 1,483 were never-users. Those wearing a hearing aid once a month or less were categorized as non-regular users.
The investigators reported a 24% difference in mortality risk between regular hearing aid users and never-users. This finding held even after adjustments were made for degree of hearing loss (from mild to severe), age, ethnicity, income, education other demographics and medical history.
They found no difference in mortality risk between non-regular users and never users, suggesting that occasional hearing aid use did not extend life.
The authors concluded, “Regular hearing aid use was associated with lower risks of mortality than in never users in US adults with hearing loss when accounting for age, hearing loss, and other potential confounders. Future research is needed to investigate the potential protective role of hearing aid use against mortality for adults with hearing loss.”