It Might Be More Than “Just” Hearing Loss

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By Dr. Carol Meyers

It’s common for older people to take a certain amount of hearing loss in stride — just another normal aspect of aging that doesn’t require any special attention. However, an increasing number of medical studies are yielding results that should encourage seniors to pay closer heed to any hearing loss and get it checked out immediately.

Johns Hopkins study links hearing loss to health risks in seniors

The results of one such study conducted at Johns Hopkins appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association on June 12, 2013.  It found an association between hearing loss in subjects 70 years and older and health-threatening conditions. Hearing loss is known to affect approximately two of every three adults in that age range in the US alone. 

Senior study investigator, Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, conducted the study. His results indicate that a significant percentage of adults 70 or older with hearing loss are more likely to experience poor cognition and difficulty with physical function. The members of the study group were more likely to require hospitalization, suffer physical illness or injury, and long episodes of depression and other negative emotional states. Dr. Lin concluded that hearing loss appears to have a “profoundly detrimental effect” on seniors’ physical and mental health.

What you can do about it

If you fall into an older demographic and are thinking you may have hearing loss, don’t ignore your symptoms or put off getting a hearing exam because it’s just something that comes with age. Not only can hearing loss itself often be treated, allowing you to once again fully participate in life, not being checked out could leave you vulnerable to further physical and mental complications.    

Dr. Carol Meyers is an Educational Specialist for Siemens Hearing Instruments and is responsible for the training and education of staff and hearing care professionals in the U.S. Dr. Meyers holds a Doctorate Degree in Audiology from Arizona School of Health Sciences and a graduate & undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska.

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