The Consequences of Long Term Hearing Loss?

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INCIDENCE OF HEARING LOSS

Millions and millions of Americans have hearing loss.  Estimates range from 36 – 40 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss.

The National Institute of Health reports that the percentage of adults with a disabling hearing loss increases with age:

  • 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss.
  • 5 percent of adults aged 55 to 64 have disabling hearing loss.
  • 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 have disabling hearing loss.
  • 50 percent of those who are 75+ have disabling hearing loss.

Unfortunately statistics also demonstrate that a significant number of those individuals are not doing anything about their hearing loss. Based on calculations by the staff at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) Epidemiology and Statistics Program,  “among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) has ever used them. Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16 percent) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them.”

LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES OF HEARING LOSS

  • A study published in February 2013 and head by Frank Lin, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Geriatric Medicine, Mental Health, and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins found that hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline in older adults.
  • In a nationally representative sample of women aged 60 to 69 years. Hearing loss is associated with increased odds of being socially isolated
  • A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that hearing loss is independently associated with incident all-cause dementia.
  • This study demonstrates that peripheral hearing impairment is independently associated with accelerated brain atrophy in whole brain and regional volumes concentrated in the right temporal lobe.
  • A study from the Archives of Internal Medicine found that for every 10 dB increase in hearing loss, there was a significant in the odds of an individual reporting falling over the preceding 12 months.

“The general perception is that hearing loss is a relatively inconsequential part of aging,” says Frank Lin, M.D.  But recent findings suggest that it may play a much more important role in brain health than we’ve previously thought.  If you’re waiting for the “right” time to do something about your hearing loss, that time might be right now.

 

 

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