Science Shows How Hearing Aids Improve Quality of Life

We all experience mis-hearing or not understanding what someone has said to us and asking them to repeat themselves. However, if you find yourself frequently having to ask your friends or colleagues to repeat themselves, it could be an early warning sign of hearing loss.

According to a new report based on a wide range of recent studies on hearing loss around the world, left untreated this condition can have a devastating impact on a person’s social life. Hearing loss can lead to loneliness, social isolation, even depression. The report by the renowned researcher Bridget Shield warns: “Hearing loss has a greater negative impact on quality of life than many other chronic conditions.” [1]

Hearing aids ensure a better quality of life

Surveys show that more than 8 out of 10 hearing aid wearers experience improvements in their overall quality of life. They report less physical and mental exhaustion, better sleep, less depression and better memory than non-wearers, and improved family relationships. The reason is simple: Struggling to hear those closest to us in our daily life makes us feel isolated and cut off from the world.

Modern hearing aids feature state-of-the-art technology with special microphones, allowing wearers to hear their conversation partner clearly even in noisy situations like a bustling bar or restaurant. Some also offer sleek designs that are aligned with the modern world of wearable technology and provide Bluetooth connectivity. This way you can hear cell phone calls, music and TV sound directly through your hearing aids. The latest example to combine all these advantages in one is the revolutionary Styletto Connect hearing aid from Signia.

Better hearing is better living

Clarity of sound is the aspect of modern hearing aid performance with which wearers are most satisfied, according to the new report. Furthermore, people experiencing hearing loss are less satisfied with life in general than people who can hear normally. This matches the findings of a recent study into quality of life with permanent hearing loss called “Better Hearing is Better Living”.[2] This study supports the idea that modern hearing aid technology improves patients’ quality of life to a greater extent than shown in previous studies.

While it is not possible to determine the degree of the direct relationship, it appears that Signia’s Own Voice Processing (OVP) technology leads to talking more in important communication situations and, in turn, helps lead to this improvement. A big improvement during group activities, which are known to be noisy, could be the result of recent advances in noise reduction and microphone precision. The study concludes that hearing aids do more than just improve hearing by supporting additional quality of life factors such as greater social activity and interaction.

Such social interaction is more critical than many might think. While some data from the UK indicates that the use of hearing aids could increase social isolation due to unwanted background noise, modern hearing devices like Signia Styletto Connect feature NarrowFocus technology. This ensures the wearer hears what’s important without distracting or uncomfortable background noises. OVP further encourages social interaction by making sure that the wearer’s own voice also sounds natural and familiar. Bridget Shield’s report shows that social relationships are as important as giving up smoking for long-term health and outweigh well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.

Hearing aid wearers “happier and healthier”

According to Shield’s report, moderate or severe hearing loss (40 dB or greater) is also associated with lower levels of physical activity, possibly due to the problem of social isolation. Other possible reasons cited are that such hearing loss could cause problems in maintaining posture and balance. It can restrict a person’s ability to hear what is going on around them in terms of footsteps, approaching vehicles, or other obstacles; probably a factor which reduces their likelihood of being physically active.

While more than two-thirds of people without hearing loss say they have an excellent quality of life, less than 4 out of 10 people with hearing loss say the same. And while less than 1 in 10 people without hearing loss report being in fair or poor health, almost two-thirds of people with hearing loss think so.[3]

Overall, Shield’s report concludes that “it is likely that hearing aid users will be happier, healthier and wealthier, with a better overall quality of life, than hearing impaired people who do not use (hearing) aids.”

Look out for more interesting facts about hearing loss in the coming days and weeks. Including why hearing aid wearers earn significantly more than non-wearers with hearing loss on average.

If you think you might have hearing loss, try our free online hearing test.

Source: Shield, B. (2018). Evaluation of the social and economic costs of hearing impairment. A report for Hear-It AISBL.

[1] Shield, B. (2018). Evaluation of the social and economic costs of hearing impairment. A report for Hear-It AISBL.

[2] Powers TA, Davis B, Froehlich M, Amlani AM. Better hearing is better living. Hearing Review. 2019;26(1)[Jan]:18-20.

[3] Ciorba et al (2011)