New Study Shows Hearing Loss May Increase Risk for Adverse Health Events

Hearing loss does more than affect your ability to communicate well with friends and family. Its potential impact on health has been demonstrated in a new study from Canadian researchers showing that two or more medical conditions often accompany hearing loss. This significantly increases the risk for hospitalization, placement in a long-term care facility, emergency room visits, adverse drug events and falls.

The study, which was published in the Lancet, was titled, “Associations Between Hearing Loss and Clinical Outcomes: Population-based Cohort Study.” In it, researchers stated the high health burden associated with hearing loss warrants an increased and better-coordinated investment to improve the care of individuals with hearing loss.

The Canadian research team’s goal was to explore the links between hearing loss and various clinical outcomes. After conducting a retrospective analysis of over 4.7 million adults residing in Alberta between April 2004 and March 2019, 152,766 individuals (3.2%) were identified as having hearing loss.

The study revealed that people with hearing loss experienced higher rates of adverse clinical outcomes than those without, including increased days spent in the hospital, higher rates of falls, adverse drug events, and emergency visits.

Furthermore, individuals with hearing loss had a higher risk of several other critical medical conditions, including:

  • Death
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke/transient ischemic attack
  • Depression
  • Heart failure
  • Dementia
  • Pressure ulcers or sores
  • Placement in long-term care facilities

Though the researchers don’t know exactly why this correlation exists between hearing loss and these medical conditions, they speculate that individuals with hearing loss are at increased risk partly because of communication barriers between health professionals and the patient.

The authors recommend increased research, investment, and coordinated efforts to improve the care and outcomes for people with hearing loss. Potentially addressing hearing loss in older adults, especially those with other serious health conditions, may improve their quality of life, their health and potentially their longevity.

Remember, hearing loss can happen at any age, and it’s important to stay on top of any potential issues with regular testing and check-ups performed by a hearing healthcare professional, such as a doctoral-level audiologist. Even people who wear hearing aids need to have them checked and adjusted for changes in hearing and health that may occur. Schedule an appointment to get your hearing checked if you:

  • Often ask others to repeat themselves.
  • Have trouble following conversations with more than one person.
  • Think that others are mumbling.
  • Have problems hearing in noisy places, such as busy restaurants.
  • Have trouble hearing the voices of small children and others with quiet voices.
  • Turn up the TV or radio volume too loud for others who are nearby.
  • Have problems with your inner ear that also affects your balance.

Associated Audiologists has eight convenient locations, six in Kansas in Overland Park, Prairie Village, Shawnee Mission, Leavenworth, Lawrence and Manhattan; and two in Missouri in Kansas City and Independence. We have 16 doctoral-level audiologists who specialize in diagnosing and treating hearing loss and we offer prescription hearing devices to fit every budget from the world’s most respected manufacturers, including Widex, Phonak, ReSound, Signia and Starkey.

Schedule an appointment.