MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Justin S. Golub, MD, MS
Otology, Neurotology, and Skull Base Surgery
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Age-related hearing loss is extremely common, yet few people do anything about it. We studied a population of over 5,000 individuals and found that hearing loss was related to feelings of depression. The worse the hearing loss, the worse the symptoms of depression. Even people with just mild hearing loss had nearly two times the odds of depressive symptoms compared to normal hearing people. Among people with moderate hearing loss, the odds of depressive symptoms were four times as high. These statistics take into account various factors that can cause both hearing loss and depression, such as age and demographic background.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: While we don’t know yet whether hearing loss causes depression, we have uncovered a pretty strong link. This makes sense because hearing loss can lead to social isolation and social isolation can lead to depression. When we see hearing loss in children, even if small, we never ignore it. I think we should apply the same standard for older adults. There is essentially no risk to hearing aids. At the same time, there is potentially a big benefit.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future studies should investigate whether hearing loss is causally related to depressive symptoms. Ideally this would require a randomized controlled treatment trial. Our team, as well as others, are working on these types of studies right now.
Any disclosures? No major disclosures. Minor disclosures are mentioned in the paper.
Golub JS, Brewster KK, Brickman AM, et al. Association of Audiometric Age-Related Hearing Loss With Depressive Symptoms Among Hispanic Individuals. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online December 06, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2018.3270
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