By Yishane Lee
Give the gift of hearing this Mother’s Day by taking your mom to get a hearing screening, and getting one yourself. One in five adults has a hearing loss—including adolescents—and the rate increases with age, with one in three seniors experiencing a hearing loss. But the average time between being diagnosed with a hearing loss and getting a hearing aid is seven years. That’s a long time to miss parts of conversations, misunderstand television dialogue, or be unable to fully enjoy a family gathering.
Now a new study puts more urgency into the need to check hearing. Researchers from the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) found a link between hearing loss and an increased risk of depression and published the results in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. The scientists examined data for 18,000 people and found that a decline in hearing more than doubled the risk for depression when compared with those who said they had excellent hearing.
Women ages 70 and older were particularly susceptible to depression with even a moderate hearing loss of 35 to 50 decibels. And when every level of hearing loss was considered, 14.7 percent of women of all ages were more likely to feel sad and depressed, compared with 9 percent of men with any degree hearing loss. The link between depression and hearing loss remained even when the researchers controlled for factors such as vision problems.
The NIDCD study underscores the importance of getting your hearing checked and treated, and of getting treated for depression as well in the event of a diagnosed hearing loss. However, and unfortunately, the researchers also found that depression was higher among those using hearing aids.
Don’t leave your mom out of the conversation. Book a hearing screening for both of you in honor of Mother’s Day. She’ll thank you, we promise!
Learn more about finding the right hearing health professional and taking care of your ears from the Spring issue of Hearing Health magazine: