Hearing loss in older adults increases the risk for hospitalization and poor health, a new study has found, even taking into account other risk factors.
Researchers analyzed data on 529 men and women over 70 with normal hearing, comparing them with 1,140 whose hearing was impaired, most with mild or moderate hearing loss.
The data were gathered in a large national health survey in 2005-6 and again in 2009-10. The results appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
After adjusting for race, sex, education, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease and other risks, the researchers found that people with poor hearing were 32 percent more likely to be hospitalized, 36 percent more likely to report poor physical health and 57 percent more likely to report poor emotional or mental health.
The authors acknowledge that this is an association only, and that there may be unknown factors that could have affected the result.
“There has been a belief that hearing loss is an inconsequential part of aging,” said the lead author, Dr. Frank R. Lin, an associate professor of otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins. “But it’s probably not. Everyone knows someone with hearing loss, and as we think about health costs, we have to take its effects into account.”
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR