Uncorrected hearing loss may raise the risk of mental and physical health problems and leads to higher hospitalization rates and health care costs, according to research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The two-part report, based on an analysis of health data from more than 150,000 people 50 and older reporting age-related hearing loss and no evidence of hearing aid use, is a collaborative effort between Johns Hopkins University, AARP Services Inc., OptumLabs and University of California, San Francisco.
The report found that untreated hearing loss is associated with a greater risk of depression, dementia, heart attack and falls. The data showed that over 10 years, untreated hearing loss was associated with a 52 percent greater risk of dementia, a 41 percent higher risk of depression and an almost 30 percent greater risk for falls when compared with those who had no hearing loss.
There are an estimated 38 million Americans with hearing loss, including two-thirds of adults older than 70, but less than 20 percent use hearing aids. And people tend to wait on average of seven years from the time they start noticing hearing loss to the time they seek help, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America.
“To me the message from this research is: Get your hearing tested,” says Charlotte Yeh, chief medical officer for AARP Services Inc.