Are You Struggling with Hearing Loss?

It’s a sad fact that time takes a toll on our bodies. Joints begin to creak, backs begin to ache and, for many, vision and hearing begin to decline. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.”[1] Despite that it’s a very normal part of the aging process, hearing loss can have serious consequences, so it’s important to take action.

Hearing and Your Overall Health

There are a few different types of hearing loss. Some types are sudden – meaning hearing is lost quickly, possibly over the course of a day or two. If you experience sudden hearing loss, you should see a doctor right away. Others are more gradual and could be caused by fluid, earwax buildup or eardrum damage, all of which your doctor may be able to easily treat.[2]

Likewise, age-related hearing loss tends to happen gradually. This often means that, even if your hearing has declined a great deal, you may not be aware of how bad it is. However, if you struggle to have conversations or often have to ask that information be repeated, your hearing has likely gotten bad enough that it could impact your overall health.

For example, when you can’t hear, you could miss important warnings, such as sirens and smoke alarms, and, therefore, fail to react to dangerous situations. You could also miss important instructions from your doctors, pharmacists and others, which could lead to errors in your medications and overall care.

In addition, hearing loss is related to some serious medical conditions, such as dementia. In a 12-year study, researchers at Johns Hopkins found that “mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.”[3] Now, some experts are beginning to suspect that hearing loss could actually be the cause of dementia and could account for as many as “800,000 of the nearly 10 million new cases of dementia diagnosed each year.”[4]


Will Hearing Aids Help?

Johns Hopkins researchers, along with the National Institute on Aging, are studying whether hearing aids can prevent dementia in adults with hearing loss. Results are expected by early 2023. In the meantime, there are plenty of other good reasons to invest in some type of hearing assistance device.

Although you may soon be able to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, the first step for now is to see your doctor or a licensed hearing professional, such as an audiologist, to have your hearing evaluated. If it’s determined that your hearing has declined enough to affect your health and daily life, your care provider will recommend some options and write you a prescription for a hearing aid. Because there are many types of hearing aids and a variety of features, choosing what’s right for you can be tough.

What could be tougher, though, is covering the cost because insurance may not pay for the testing or the devices.[5] With the average cost of a pair of hearing aids running around $5,000,[6] it’s no wonder that only about 20% of those who could use a hearing aid actually wear one.[7] To make matters worse, the features that make hearing aids especially useful, such as noise reduction and directional microphones, are likely to increase the cost.[8]


Can You Hear Me Now?

The good news is that more affordable OTC options, without the added costs associated with traditional hearing aid service providers, could be available this year and should range in price from $200 to $800 per pair.[9] Despite the much lower price, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is requiring that these hearing aids meet specific standards and be regulated as medical devices.[10]

One big difference between OTC hearing aids and the prescription alternatives is the customized programming. Those sold by prescription can be programmed by an experienced professional to better meet your specific needs whereas OTC hearing aids will be customizable by the user.[11] Which is better remains to be seen.

What’s perhaps more important is that lower OTC prices could help more people hear better, which could prevent serious health issues and maybe even lower the risk of dementia. Although most hearing aid users “wait, on average, 10 years before getting help for hearing loss,”[12] getting your hearing tested and getting hearing aids, if needed, may have a long-term positive impact on your life.


[1] National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (2022). Age-Related Hearing Loss.

[2] National Institute on Aging (2018). Hearing Loss: A Common Problem for Older Adults.

[3] Johns Hopkins Medicine. The Hidden Risks of Hearing Loss.

[4] Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (2021). Hearing Loss and the Dementia Connection.

[5] National Council on Aging (2019). Medicare and Hearing Health for Seniors.

[6] Godman, H. Harvard Health Letter (2022).

[7] U.S. Food & Drug Administration (2021). FDA Issues Landmark Proposal to Improve Access to Hearing Aid Technology for Millions of Americans.

[8] Mayo Clinic (2020). Hearing aids: How to choose the right one.

[9] Layne, R. CBS News (2021). Cheaper, sleeker over-the-counter hearing aids are on the way.

[10] U.S. Food & Drug Administration (2021). FDA Issues Landmark Proposal to Improve Access to Hearing Aid Technology for Millions of Americans.

[11] Roberts, C. Consumer Reports (2021). Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Move One Step Closer to Reality.

[12] Johns Hopkins Medicine. The Hidden Risks of Hearing Loss.


S7694_22-6834_enewsletter 2022_C Reviewed 03/30/22

Elixir Insurance is a Prescription Drug Plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Elixir Insurance depends on contract renewal. For more information, please call our customer service number at 833-684-7267. TTY users call 711. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ATTENTION: If you speak Spanish, language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 833-684-7267 (TTY: 711). ATENCIÓN: si habla Español, los servicios de asistencia lingüística, sin cargo, están disponibles para usted. Llamada 833-684-7267 (TTY: 711).

Elixir Insurance, 8921 Canyon Falls Blvd., Suite 100, Twinsburg, OH 44087, United States


Topics: News, Healthy Choices, Helpful Tips

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