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Study Shows Untreated Hearing Loss Leads to Premature Death

Celebrating 35 years of Caring for Your Hearing

Meredy Hase tests a child, 1987  Kupperman and Hase work to license audiologists in Wisconsin, 1989

 

Hearing Loss UNDER Age 65

We used to think of hearing loss as something that only happened to our grandparents' generation. But you'd be surprised at how many people your age, and even younger, have a hearing problem.
According to a study recently published by the Better Hearing Institute, two-thirds of Americans with hearing loss are under the age of 65 and still in the work force. That includes one of every six "Baby Boomers" (ages 41 to 59) and one of every 14 "Generation X'ers" (age 29-40).

According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "Hearing loss is by no means an 'old person's disease' any longer. Each day, we see people of all ages come into our offices concerned they may have a hearing problem.

"There's even solid evidence to support the fact that for working Americans, hearing loss impacts their ability to make a living, up to $12,000 in lost income per year." (See related article)
Dr. Hase urges anyone who thinks they, or a loved one, may have a hearing loss to contact The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services without delay.

Auditory Deprivation

Auditory Deprivation refers to the fact that even though we "hear" with our ears, it's our brain that's the true organ of hearing.

When hearing loss is left untreated, the brain's ability to distinguish various sounds becomes less and less. Try to think of Auditory Deprivation as similar, in a sense, to muscles that atrophy when not used over a long period of time.

The reason Auditory Deprivation is important is that we have ample evidence proving how long people will wait before seeking help for a suspected hearing loss. Up to ten years, by some estimates.

In other words, the longer you wait to get help for your hearing loss, the less even the most advanced hearing instruments will be able to help you hear better. That's one more reason physicians recommend annual hearing checks as part of an overall health assessment.
The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services can perform hearing screenings that take only a few minutes. Concerned individuals are urged to contact them at the first signs of hearing loss, such as an inability to understand conversations in a crowded room or having to turn up the TV volume in order to hear.

Hearing & Income Loss

After years of research, there is new evidence that links hearing loss and loss of income. A study released by the Better Hearing Institute in Alexandria, VA, proves that untreated hearing loss may impact household income by as much as $12,000 per year.

The study also shows that hearing loss, which affects more than 28 million Americans, two thirds of whom are still in the work force, results in an annual loss of more than $100 billion in wages and worker productivity. The good news is people who find help for their hearing loss can regain up to 50% of that lost income.

According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "One of the misconceptions about hearing loss is that it's 'an old person's ailment'. But we know that hearing loss crosses all income lines and impacts people of all ages".

The new "Open Ear" Digital hearing instruments are especially designed to help Baby Boomers feel more comfortable about wearing hearing instruments.

Anyone interested in receiving a FREE Demonstration of Open Fit hearing technology are urged to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services.

Hearing Loss & the Family

For years, both researchers and hearing healthcare professionals have known much about the causes of hearing loss and how it affects the person who suffers from it.

But not until recently has attention been paid as to the devastating effects hearing loss has on family members and friends as well. This past year alone, several organizations have weighed in with their findings on this often overlooked medical problem that by current estimates, affects the lives and families of more than 30 million Americans.

For example, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a government agency whose task it is to research the lives of older Americans, released a study that confirms how often a person with hearing loss begins to feel isolated, eventually withdrawing from normal everyday activities and even from family and friends.

None of this is news, however, to Dr. Meredy Hase,  who says, "I realized just how much hearing loss also affected family members when we''d spend so much time counseling them when we''d fit their loved one with hearing instruments".

The benefits of better hearing were the subject of an NBC report that aired on an installment of the NBC Nightly News. In that report, the testimonials of several patients and their families provided evidence of how lives can be changed for the good, once the decision has been made to seek help for a hearing problem.

Those interviewed talked about how experiences such as watching TV or enjoying conversations with loved ones - things that were not possible with hearing loss - were once again part of the everyday enjoyment of life. Social activities like dining at restaurants of going to the movies were also among the range of family life experienced through better hearing.

Thanks to recent advances in technology more help is available than ever before for those whose lives are affected by hearing loss. If left untreated, hearing loss will almost always become worse over time, another reason Dr. Hase urges people to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services if a hearing loss is thought to exist.

More Hearing Healthcare News
 

A new study links hearing loss with an increased risk for mortality before the age of 75 due to cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health found that mortality among those with hearing loss is elevated, particularly among men and women younger than age 75 and those who are divorced or separated. However, mortality risk was diminished in adults with a well-hearing partner. This is the first study to investigate the combined effects of hearing loss with partnership, parental status, and increased mortality risk. The findings are published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

"Old age greatly increases the risk for hearing loss," said Vegard Skirbekk, PhD, Columbia Aging Center faculty member and professor of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health. "Therefore, as the population ages, we are seeing increasing numbers of people with hearing loss. At the same time, there are greater numbers of adults living without a partner -- putting people with hearing loss at an increased risk for death."

Deaths related to cancer and injuries or as a result of injuries were not affected by hearing loss, although aaccident-related mortality was higher among the hearing impaired who lacked partners or children. "This may be due to a greater fatality from traffic-related incidents, for instance, as family members otherwise may have helped to prevent many of these deaths through warnings or preventive action," said Bo Engdahl of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and first author.

Hearing loss is the fourth leading cause of disability. Strongly age dependent, it increases from approximately one percent among those aged 40 to 44 up to 50 percent in women and 62 percent in men aged 80 to 84.

The researchers analyzed data from 50,462 adults enrolled in the Nord-Trøndelag Hearing Loss Study from 1996 to 1998. They used the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry to identify deaths until 2016. Data on marital status and number of children was obtained from the National Population Registry. The researchers also categorized smoking frequency, alcohol use, and physical activity.

According to Engdahl and Skirbekk, there are several explanations for the association between hearing loss and mortality. Families may be more likely to stay supportive and present even during spells of poor health compared to friends or those with weaker ties, which may reduce some of the mortality risk associated with functional impairments. Having a partner could allow someone with hearing loss to be socially active to a greater extent, as the spouse may provide support, take initiative, and help them overcome thresholds for socializing with others. A spouse could also encourage the use of technical support, such as hearing aids, and assist in consulting health services when necessary. Being in a relationship may also serve as a buffer against detrimental economic consequences of hearing loss.

"It is well known that rapid population-level aging is likely to result in a greater prevalence of hearing impairment, and that a loss of hearing can raise mortality risks. However there has not yet been much focus on how these effects relate to ongoing changes in family dynamics. Our findings verify that excess mortality among the hearing impaired can be particularly high among individuals with certain family constellations, such as men who are divorced or women who do not have children," noted Skirbekk. "When governments develop plans to lower the incidence of hearing impairment, they may want to consider the family dimension when designing intervention and social and health support systems."