Untreated Hearing Loss Associated with Increased Risk of Hospitalization, Other Health Conditions

JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery


Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Nicholas S. Reed, Au.D., email Raigan Wheeler at rwheel13@jhmi.edu. To contact corresponding author Jennifer A. Deal, Ph.D., email Barbara Benham at bbenham1@jhu.edu. The full studies are available on the For The Media website.

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Reed study: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/10.1001/jamaoto.2018.2875

Deal study: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/fullarticle/10.1001/jamaoto.2018.2876


Bottom Line: Two studies and two commentaries examine the association of untreated hearing loss with health care use, costs and other health conditions.


What: More than 38 million adults in the United States experience hearing loss; however, fewer than 20 percent report using hearing aids. In one study, researchers examined health care use and costs over 10 years among about 4,700 adults 50 and older with and without untreated hearing loss who were included in a health insurance database. Researchers report untreated hearing loss was associated with more hospitalizations, increased risk of 30-day hospital readmission, increased risk of emergency department visits and longer hospital stays. Over a 10-year period, people with untreated hearing loss incurred an average of $22,000 more in health care costs than people without hearing loss. Limitations of the study are inherent to using claims data, including data coding processes designed for billing not research.

Authors: Nicholas S. Reed, Au.D., Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Baltimore, and coauthors



What: Another data analysis of the same group of adults examined the association between a diagnosis of hearing loss and other health conditions. Researchers report hearing loss was associated with an increased 10-year risk of a range of health conditions, including dementia, depression, falls and heart attack. More studies are needed to understand the reasons underlying these associations and whether treatment for hearing loss might reduce risk for these conditions.

Authors: Jennifer A. Deal, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and coauthors



Related Material Also available on the For The Media website:

— An interview with Nicholas S. Reed, Au.D, co-author of “Trends in Health Care Costs and Utilization Associated With Untreated Hearing Loss Over 10 Years.”

— The commentaries,The Invisible Costs of Hearing Loss,” by Michael M. McKee, M.D., M.P.H., University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, and “Association of Age-Related Hearing Loss With Multiple Adverse Health Outcomes,” by David Loughrey, Ph.D., University of California San Francisco, and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

To Learn More: The full studies are available on the For The Media website.

Editor’s Note:  Please see the articles for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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