Hearing management

Updated 12 June 2013

Hearing loss could increase hospitalisation risk

A new study shows that seniors with hearing loss are also at increased risk for hospitalisation, illness, injury and depression.


Straining to catch the gist of conversations is frustrating enough, but a new study shows that seniors with hearing loss are also at increased risk for hospitalisation, illness, injury and depression.

Researchers analysed data from more than 1 100 American men and women aged 70 and older with hearing loss, and found that over a four-year period they were 32% more likely to have been admitted to the hospital than more than 500 adults with normal hearing.

Hearing-impaired seniors were also 36% more likely to have prolonged stretches (more than 10 days) of illness or injury and 57% more likely to have extended episodes (more than 10 days) of stress, depression or bad mood, according to the study, published online June 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Hearing loss may have a profoundly detrimental effect on older people's physical and mental well-being, and even health care resources," said study senior investigator Dr Frank Lin, an otologist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Hearing loss part of ageing

"Our results underscore why hearing loss should not be considered an inconsequential part of ageing, but an important issue for public health," Lin said in a Hopkins news release.

Hearing deficits can lead to social isolation, which in turn contribute to physical and mental declines, Lin said.

Hearing loss affects as many as 27 million Americans over age 50, including two-thirds of men and women aged 70 years and older, according to Lin.

The study doesn't prove that being hard of hearing directly leads to other health problems, but it does show an association between the two. And health policymakers need to consider the broader health impact of hearing loss when making decisions for older people, study lead investigator Dr Dane Genther, a resident in otolaryngology/head and neck surgery, said in the news release.

Genther's recommendations: expanded Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for hearing-related health care services, wider installation of hearing loops in various facilities, and more accessible and affordable approaches for treating hearing loss.

More information

The US National Institute on Aging has more about hearing loss.

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Hearing Expert

Francis Slabber is a Speech & Language Therapist and Audiologist who has owned and run The Hearing Clinic in Wynberg, Cape Town for the last 17 years. Francis and her team have extensive experience in fitting and supplying hearing aids as well as assistive living devices. Francis has served as the Western Cape Chairperson for the South African Association of Audiologists for three years and has given many talks on the topic of hearing loss and amplification. The Hearing Clinic has a special interest in adult and geriatric hearing impairment, hearing aid fittings and hearing rehabilitation.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules