By PAUL RODRIGUEZ — CBS News COLUMBUS, Ohio — Scientists have found that hearing aids that claim to improve the hearing of people with severe hearing loss are actually more harmful to the people who use them, according to new research.
The research by the National Institutes of Health found that the hearing aids were more likely to cause hearing loss in people with mild or moderate hearing loss and to reduce the hearing ability of people who had mild hearing loss.
The hearing aids are often sold as a cure-all, but the research suggests that hearing loss may be a chronic problem that can be exacerbated by them.
The new findings come as hearing aids continue to be touted as a potential cure for hearing loss that has been linked to hearing loss, but new studies show that they can worsen the hearing loss of people.
The study was conducted by researchers from the National Institute of Health, the University of Wisconsin, the Center for Audiology at the University at Buffalo, the Hearing Research Institute at Cornell University, the School of Public Health at Duke University and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at Duke.
The researchers looked at data from the American College of Hearing, Speech and Hearing Medicine, a group of about 2,000 hearing professionals that provides education and research on hearing, and the Association of American Speech-Language Pathologists.
The ACHP studies how hearing aids affect hearing, how they affect hearing loss as well as how people with hearing loss use them.
“The study showed that people who used hearing aids had a significantly higher rate of hearing loss than people who did not use hearing aids,” said Dr. Andrew A. Cogswell, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Duke University School of Medicine.
“If people use hearing loss-related products, then that’s probably a consequence of that product, rather than a result of their own hearing.”
The study focused on people with moderate hearing damage who had undergone a single surgery, a procedure called a stereotactic transposition.
A small number of people in the study also received hearing aids, but they were not included in the analysis.
The researchers compared the hearing-related quality of the hearing aid with that of a control group of people without hearing loss who had been in the same surgery for a similar period of time.
The results showed that hearing aid users had a lower quality of hearing when compared with the hearing care of those who did have hearing loss: Hearing aids had lower levels of noise and noise-induced noise (NIHL) in people who were using hearing aids and more noise-causing audiobasics in people without any hearing loss at all.
The difference between hearing aids users and the hearing control group was much greater than for those who had not been using hearing aid products.
“People who were on hearing aids in the control group had much worse hearing in the hearing tests, and they were hearing worse than they did before,” said study co-author Dr. Christopher H. McQuillan, director of the University’s Center for Research on Hearing and Speech.
The report comes as a group representing the nation’s hearing health organizations has launched a national campaign to get hearing aid manufacturers to make improvements.
The Campaign for Better Hearing is encouraging people to report problems with hearing aids to manufacturers.
“We are deeply concerned that there is a disconnect between hearing aid companies and hearing health experts,” said Karen C. DeYoung, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Hearing Educators.
“These results should encourage manufacturers to improve their products to better protect the hearing and health of people across the nation.”
In addition to hearing aid, hearing aids can include ear plugs and earphones.
Ear plugs are earbud-like devices that can protect the inner ear by absorbing sound from the ear.
Earphones, on the other hand, are earphones that plug into your ears and provide sound.
The products are often marketed to help people in noisy places like airports, hotels and restaurants.
“It is important that the products we use today are not so toxic that they are no longer appropriate for hearing health,” said Daniel M. DeVito, director and executive director of Hear, the national nonprofit that works to improve hearing in people.
In a news release, Hear also said that the National Hearing Foundation is supporting a hearing aid research initiative that will evaluate hearing aid efficacy in people and how it affects hearing loss over time.
In the meantime, hearing aid sales are up, but consumers are still paying a premium.
The hearing aid industry generates $2.8 billion in annual sales.