Research shows that hearing loss leads to cognitive decline, increasing the risk of dementia in the elderly. A recent long-term study followed patients over a 25-year period and found that individuals who wore hearing aids had the same levels of cognitive decline as people with normal hearing, while those who went untreated demonstrated significantly lower cognitive function scores.
*Self-Reported Hearing Loss, Hearing Aids, and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-Year Study, 2015, The American Geriatrics Society
Patients with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss, possibly because high glucose levels, a telltale sign of diabetes, can damage the blood vessels in the inner ear. Even those with prediabetes are 30% more likely to experience hearing loss. Diabetics should have regular hearing checkups, because early detection is key to healthy hearing.
*Diabetes and Hearing Loss, 2013, AmericanDiabetesAssociation.com
Multiple studies have shown a strong link between untreated hearing loss and depression, the result of social withdrawal and isolation. 30% of patients with severe hearing loss who do not wear hearing aids report depression, compared with 22% of hearing aid users. Conversely, 42% of hearing aid users regularly participate in social activities versus 32% of nonusers.
*The Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss in Older Persons, 1999, The National Council on the Aging
High blood pressure doesn’t just negatively impact the cardiovascular system; studies show that patients suffering from hypertension also have an increased risk of developing hearing loss and/or tinnitus. Medications to control blood pressure can also help reduce the impact of hearing loss.
*Effects of Hypertension on Hearing, 2013, Indian Journal of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery
*High blood pressure can lead to hearing loss, 2013, HearIt.org
Falls are a serious concern for the elderly, and a leading cause of injury and death in those age 65 and older. Individuals with mild hearing loss at 25 decibels are three times as likely to experience a fall; that risk increases 1.4 times for each additional 10 decibels of hearing loss. Researchers theorize this is the result of an increased cognitive burden and lower overall awareness of their surroundings.
*Hearing loss and falls among older adults in the United States, 2012, Archives of Internal Medicine
Sleep apnea not only increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes; it also leads to higher risks of hearing loss. One large-scale study showed patients with sleep apnea had a 31% increase in high frequency hearing loss and a 90% increase in low frequency hearing loss. Overall, the risk of developing both high and low frequency hearing loss was 38% higher in sleep apnea patients.
* Sleep Apnea Linked to Sudden Hearing Loss, 2012, The Hearing Journal
*Sleep apnea can cause hearing loss, 2015, HearIt.org
Research shows a sizeable correlation between obesity (defined as a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher) and hearing loss, most likely the result of reduced blood flow to the inner ear. Additionally, obesity can lead to a number of other health complications, such as diabetes and hypertension, that also lead to an increased risk of hearing loss. Obese individuals are 27% more likely to develop hearing impairment.
*Obesity May Be Hard on Your Hearing, 2013, WebMD.com News from HealthDay
Hearing Aids and Quality of Life
Research studies show a strong correlation between hearing aid use and quality of life. Patients who treat their loss with amplification devices report improvements in a number of key areas including relationships at home (60%), feelings about self (57%), mental health (44%), self-confidence (35%), sense of independence (31%) and sense of safety (30%). Positive improvements were also noted in social life, physical health, relationships with children and coworkers, sports abilities, and sex life.
*Quantifying the Obvious: The Impact of Hearing Instruments on Quality of Life, 2000, The Hearing Review
Research indicates that poor cardiovascular health affects both the peripheral and central auditory system. Damaged blood vessels and a reduction in blood flow to the inner ear may be responsible for an increased risk of hearing loss in patients with cardiovascular disease. The correlation is strong enough to prompt doctors to recommend cardiovascular screening for all patients with low-frequency hearing loss.
*Does cardiovascular health mediate hearing ability?, 1994, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
Chronic Kidney Disease (CDK)
Research indicates that 54% of patients with moderate chronic kidney disease (CDK) report hearing loss compared to 28% with no kidney problems. The tissues in the inner ear and kidneys have structural and functional similarities, and toxins that lead to kidney failure can damage nerves in other areas of the body with similar tissues such as those in the inner ear.
* The Association Between Reduced GFR and Hearing Loss: A Cross-sectional Population-Based Study, 2010, American Journal of Kidney Disease
Hearing loss has been shown to contribute to brain tissue loss, negatively affecting a patient’s ability to process sound and speech. Hearing aid use helps improve speech comprehension, particularly when it comes to soft speech and is especially beneficial for those with severe hearing loss.
* Hearing loss and cognition in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, 2011, Neuropsychology
A study found smokers and passive smokers were more likely to develop hearing loss. Smokers were 15.1% more likely to develop hearing loss than passive smokers and non-smokers, while passive smokers were 28% more likely to develop hearing loss than non-smokers.
* Cigarette Smoking, Passive Smoking, Alcohol Consumption, and Hearing Loss, 2014, Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Recent studies show that 21% of all patients with cystic fibrosis suffer from sensorineural hearing loss, in which more than 70% of those patients had hearing loss in both ears. Regular hearing tests are recommended for cystic fibrosis patients.
*Risk Factors for Hearing Loss in Patients with Cystic Fibrosis, 2016, Journal of the American Academy of Audiology
Research strongly suggest platinum-based chemotherapy drugs may cause hearing loss. 10-29% of patients treated with chemotherapy drugs reportedly suffered hearing loss.
*Hearing Problems, CancerConnect.com
Research suggest that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are more likely than non-autistic children to have have an Auditory Processing Disorder that makes it harder for them to discern and organize sounds. It has been reported that 18% of children with autism have hyperacusis.
* Tinnitus and hyperacusis in children: clinic reports and basic research, 2012, Journal of Otology
In a retrospective study of more than 300 thousand adults ages 21 through 90, iron deficiency anemia (IDA) was associated with sensorineural hearing loss and combined hearing loss. Patients with IDA were 2.41 times more likely to have combined hearing loss.
* Association of Iron Deficiency Anemia with Hearing Loss in US Adults, 2016, JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery
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