Close-up Of Hearing Aid On Person Palm

The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) this week published updated guidelines on age-related hearing loss. Among the guidelines: Everyone 50 and up should receive screenings for hearing loss.

The guidelines, which were published Tuesday in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery,  specifically address detection and treatment for age-related hearing loss (ARHL) in people who are 50 and older. Globally, the problem affects 466 million people.

“Age-related hearing loss is underdiagnosed and undertreated despite being the most common sensory deficit in the aging population,” Betty S. Tsai Do, MD, the Development Group chair, said in a statement. “With almost 50% of the population over 75 reporting hearing loss, having a clinical practice guideline allows all clinicians to provide better health care to those with hearing loss based on research and best practices. Not only does this CPG provide screening recommendations and management of the hearing loss, it also educates clinicians and care partners how to communicate with those suffering from hearing loss.”

ARHL is the most common sensory disorder in older adults. In fact, 1 in 3 adults between the ages of 65 to 74 deals with it. The hearing loss develops gradually, affecting both ears similarly. Genetic and environmental factors can cause it. ARHL is linked to dementia, falls, cardiovascular disease and depression. 

The guidelines include 11 key action statements aimed at identifying those at risk and treating it. Besides screenings for those 50 and older, the guidelines include recommending an audiogram if the screening indicates possible hearing loss, as well as ear exams and referrals for more complications. Clinicians should also look at sociodemographic factors that influence access to care, the report stated. Clinicians should evaluate people with known hearing loss or those with reported concerns every three years, the report said.