There are an estimated 1.5 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the Netherlands, more than a third of whom use hearing aids. So not everyone. Maybe they do too. New research shows that these devices not only help you hear better, but they can also extend your life.
In the United States where the study As it was implemented, the problem became bigger: Of the nearly 40 million Americans with hearing loss, only a tenth have hearing aids. Very little, according to the researchers, who showed that regular use of a hearing aid reduces the risk of premature death by about a quarter.
Principal investigator Janet Choi Keck Medical University of Southern California “We found that adults with hearing loss who wear their hearing aids for at least five hours each week are 24 percent less likely to die prematurely than hearing-impaired people who rarely or never use the devices,” he explains.
The doctor continues: “These results are very important because they show that hearing aids play a protective role in the health of these people and appear to prevent premature death in a large proportion of cases.”
Social isolation, depression and dementia
The vast majority of deaf and hard of hearing people are 60 years of age or older. Previous research has shown that these people are at greater risk of social isolation, depression and even dementia if they do not treat their hearing problems. But until now it hasn't really been clear how effective hearing aids are. According to Choi, her studies have begun The scalpel appeared, going into this in more detail for the first time.
She and her team analyzed the health data of about ten thousand adults from around the world National health and nutrition database. It contains data from Americans who underwent a comprehensive audiometric evaluation between 1999 and 2012, so their entire hearing was measured. They also filled out questionnaires about hearing aid use. The researchers followed the participants for ten years after the hearing test and tracked down the people who died.
Ultimately, 1,863 people from the sample were classified as hearing-impaired. Of these, 237 appeared to use a hearing aid regularly. So most of them didn't. There was also a small group of infrequent users who operated their hearing aids only once a month.
Stable and consistent effect
The results were clear: irregular use had no effect on the risk of death, but those who used their hearing aids regularly had a 24% lower risk of premature death, compared to the group of non-users. The degree of hearing damage, age, race, income, education, and medical background of the participants did not play a role.
Choi didn't look into how this could be achieved, but she mentioned another recent study that showed using hearing aids reduces the risk of dementia and depression. She speculates that better hearing leads to improved mental health and cognitive function, which increases life expectancy.
Reason enough for the hearing impaired to use hearing aids. There are many reasons why not everyone does it: it's expensive, there's a stigma, and it's hard to find devices that work well.
Customized AI advice
The researcher can discuss these challenges personally, because she was born with a hearing loss in her left ear. However, she did not wear a hearing aid until she was 30, and it took several years to find one that fit her well.
To make this easier in the future, Choi is now working on an AI database that categorizes all hearing aid options and can provide personalized advice. She says more research is needed to learn more about the relationship between hearing aids and longevity.
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