Kidney Disease and Hearing Health
Hearing loss commonly coexists with chronic kidney disease (CKD), chronic renal failure, and other kidney diseases. And because unaddressed hearing loss can significantly undermine a person’s quality of life, it is important for people with kidney disease to be aware of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss. The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) encourages people with chronic kidney disease to make hearing checks a routine part of their medical care so that any hearing loss can be appropriately addressed. To help individuals determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing profession, BHI is offering a free, quick, and confidential online hearing check at www.hearingcheck.org.
About Hearing Health
One of the most commonly unaddressed health conditions in America today, hearing loss affects more than 34 million Americans—most of whom are below retirement age.
Hearing loss can strike at any time and at any age. And when left unaddressed, hearing loss can affect virtually every aspect of an individual's life. Numerous studies, in fact, have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, avoidance or withdrawal from social situations, social rejection and loneliness, reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety, impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced job performance and earning power, and diminished psychological and overall physical health.
The good news is that the vast majority of people with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids—and their quality of life significantly improved.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss
The signs of hearing loss can be subtle and emerge slowly, or they can be significant and come on suddenly. Either way, there are common indications.
Socially, individuals with hearing loss may:
- require frequent repetition;
- have difficulty following conversations involving more than two people;
- think that other people sound muffled or mumble;
- have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms;
- have trouble hearing children and women;
- keep the TV or radio turned up to a high volume;
- answer or respond inappropriately in conversations;
- have ringing in their ears; and/or
- read lips or more intently watch people's faces when in conversation.
Emotionally, individuals with hearing loss may:
- feel stressed from straining to hear what others are saying;
- feel annoyed at others because they can't hear or understand them;
- feel embarrassed when meeting new people or after misunderstanding what others are saying;
- feel nervous about trying to hear and understand; and/or
- withdraw from social situations that they once enjoyed.
Medically, individuals with hearing loss may:
- have a family history of hearing loss;
- take medications that can harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs);
- have diabetes, heart, circulation, or thyroid problems; and/or
- have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period or suffered a single exposure to explosive noise.
Eye-Opening Facts about Hearing Loss
- Approximately one in 10 Americans, or 34 million people have some degree of hearing loss.
- Fewer than 15 percent of physicians screen their patients for hearing loss during their annual physical exams..
- People with untreated hearing loss are more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and less likely to participate in organized activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids, according to a survey by the National Council on the Aging (NCOA) of 2,300 hearing-impaired adults, age 50 or older.
- Untreated mild to moderate hearing loss is associated with short-term memory loss, according to a Brandeis University study.
- People with untreated hearing loss lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, depending on their degree of hearing loss and are twice as likely to experience unemployment as their peers who use hearing aids on the job. Use of hearing aids reduces the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss.
- 75% of hearing aid users attribute positive changes in their quality of life due to wearing hearing aids, according to a survey by the Better Hearing Institute of close to 2,000 consumers.
Seeking Help for Hearing Loss
Hearing aids hold such great potential to positively change so many lives. And advances in digital technology have dramatically improved hearing aids, making them smaller than ever with far better sound quality. Nevertheless, 40% of people with moderate or worse hearing loss who could benefit from hearing devices currently wear them; and only 9% of those with mild hearing loss. The Better Hearing Institute encourages all people with a hearing loss to seek assistance from a hearing healthcare professional and to explore the options for improving their hearing—and their lives.
Chronic Kidney Disease on the Rise
(Source: National Kidney Foundation)
More than 26 million American adults have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and millions more are at risk and don’t know it. Since kidney disease can sneak up without any warning in the way of symptoms, the disease has been labeled a “silent killer” and a “quiet epidemic.”
- The incidence of kidney failure, or end stage renal disease (ESRD), is rising fast, with more than 546,000 Americans currently receiving treatment. This includes more than 381,000 dialysis patients and 165,000 people with functioning kidney transplants.
- Of the more than 110,000 Americans currently awaiting organ transplants, 87,000 are waiting for a kidney.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44 percent of the new cases. Nearly 215,000 people are living with kidney failure resulting from diabetes.
- Uncontrolled or poorly controlled high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the country, accounting for 26% of all cases.
- The third and fourth leading causes of kidney failure in the U.S. are glomerulonephritis, an inflammatory disease of the kidneys, and polycystic kidney disease.
- CKD hits minorities disproportionately, with African Americans affected at a rate of nearly three times that of Caucasians as the number of new cases of kidney failure per million is 783 for African Americans and 295 for whites. Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and the elderly are also at increased risk.
- Each year, more than 88,000 Americans die from causes related to kidney failure.
- Premature death from cardiovascular disease is higher in adults with CKD compared to adults without CKD. In fact, individuals with CKD are 16 to 40 times more likely to die than to reach kidney failure.
- CKD continues to be a major cause of lost productivity, physician visits and hospitalizations among men and women.
Sources of Facts and Statistics
United Network for Organ Sharing (www.unos.org)
United States Renal Data System (www.usrds.org)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov)
Founded in 1973, the Better Hearing Institute conducts research and engages in hearing health education with the goal of helping people with hearing loss to benefit from proper treatment. For more information on hearing loss, visit www.betterhearing.org.
Better Hearing Institute, 1444 I Street, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005
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