Older patients are especially vulnerable. A family member often brings in these patients. “I frequently hear, ‘At the Thanksgiving dinner table, my mother or father used to be extremely engaged and now they are not participating in the conversation because they can’t hear it—and they are becoming more and more socially isolated,’” Dr. Tucci said.
Explore This IssueNovember 2017
Social isolation has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of depression, while hearing loss is also associated with a variety of negative health outcomes (Lancet. 2017 Jul 10. pii: S0140-6736(17)31073–31075). These can include:
- Higher incidence of falls;
- Greater association with dementia and cognitive decline;
- Increased rates of hospitalization; and
- Higher overall cost of care.
“All of these things are at tremendous cost to society. It is to our advantage [as a society] to figure out how to accurately identify and treat hearing loss of all types, not just for patients who are candidates for a cochlear implant,” Dr. Tucci said. Dr. Buchman agreed: “Cochlear implants are transformative for those people in need.”
Nikki Kean is a freelance medical writer based in New Jersey.
Financial disclosures: Craig A. Buchman, MD, is on the Medical Advisory Board of Advanced Bionics Corp. and Cochlear Corp. He also has ownership equity in Advanced Cochlear Diagnostics, LLC. Anil K. Lalwani, MD, is on the Medical Advisory Board of Advanced Bionics and the Surgical Advisory Board of MED-EL. Debara L. Tucci, MD, has disclosed that MED-EL has funded the Newborn Hearing Screening Program pilot in Nairobi, Kenya.