Hearing Aids May Lengthen Life

January is a great time to evaluate your health and make changes you didn’t know could help you! Lots of us put off health concerns over the holidays. It’s easy to focus on festivities rather than our own well-being. However, health concerns can grow slowly and need to be handled.

Hearing can deteriorate gradually and be something you don’t notice. Getting your hearing checked can be an excellent way to boost your health this January. Wearing hearing aids can prevent an early death, according to a new study.

What we found was that there was a 24 percent lower risk of mortality for people who use hearing aids,” said Dr. Janet Choi, an assistant professor at the Univ. of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

The study underscores the importance of managing health risks that improve daily life and longevity. Nowadays, hearing aids are available over the counter. The study found they were as effective at improving life expectancy as those obtained with a prescription. Medicaid covers hearing aids in some, but not all, states.  

Studies have found that “auditory deprivation,” or not getting enough sound to the brain, harms brain structure and cognition. It can also lead to social isolation if a person can’t interact with the people around them as much. Hearing loss may also increase the risk of dementia, while hearing aids may decrease that risk factor.

A lot of people are not using hearing aids because they don’t want to look older,” Dr. Choi said. “They don’t want to be associated with disability, but it really doesn’t have to be that way.”

Instead, as hearing aids boost health so much and help people stay active and involved, it’s better to reframe them as something that helps people’s well-being and vitality. Loss of hearing, to some degree, is unavoidable as we age. Hearing is damaged by exposure to loud noise, and avoiding all loud noises is impossible. But it is possible, with hearing aids, to combat the problem.

Hearing is so important for just maintaining health across our life course,” said Dr. Frank Lin, director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at Johns Hopkins and an author of the study.

Hearing loss impacts 40 million adults in America. However, only four million adults who need hearing aids use them. Knowing they can improve length and quality of life, it’s time to get a hearing test and look into your options. Hearing aids can be expensive. However, Medicaid may cover them, and the OTC ones can cost as little as $100.

Banner image: Mark Paton via Unsplash

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