WEDNESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- About 27 million
Americans aged 50 and older have lost some of their hearing and
could benefit from a hearing aid, a new study finds.
However, many people don't get hearing aids because they're
often not covered by insurance, they don't receive training in
integrating hearing aids into their daily lives, or they consider
hearing loss an inevitable part of aging and not a major concern,
according to the researchers.
"There's still a perception among the public and many medical professionals that hearing loss is an inconsequential part of the aging process and you can't do anything about it," said study senior author Dr. Frank Lin, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a university news release. "We want to turn that idea around."
The study is published online Feb. 13 in the
Archives of Internal Medicine.
The researchers examined information on hearing aid use and
hearing testing among participants of the U.S. National Health and
Nutrition Examination Surveys conducted between 1999 and 2006.
About 14 percent of people aged 50 and older use hearing aids.
That ranged from 4 percent of 50- to 59-year-olds to 22 percent of
people aged 80 and older.
Although more people used hearing aids as they got older, the
study's authors suggested 23 million more people could benefit from
hearing aids if they used them.
"Understanding current rates of hearing loss treatment is important, as evidence is beginning to surface that hearing loss is associated with poorer cognitive functioning and the risk of dementia," Lin said. "Previous studies that have attempted to estimate hearing-aid use have relied on industry marketing data or focused on specific groups that don't represent a true sample of the United States population."
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information