Summary: The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation released a new clinical practice guideline for managing age-related hearing loss (ARHL). The guideline offers evidence-based recommendations to improve the identification, screening, and management of ARHL.


  1. The new guideline introduces 11 evidence-based Key Action Statements (KAS) that guide clinicians on how to effectively identify and manage age-related hearing loss. 
  2. The guideline also highlights the necessity of individualized care, taking into account social determinants of health that affect patient access and preferences.
  3. The guideline underscores the significant health impacts associated with untreated age-related hearing loss, including increased risks of dementia, depression, cardiovascular disease, and falls.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) published a new clinical practice guideline (CPG) that provides evidence-based recommendations regarding the identification and management of age-related hearing loss (ARHL) in patients 50 years and older.

The new guideline—Clinical Practice Guideline: Age-Related Hearing Loss—published in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery sheds light on the global public health problem that affects approximately 466 million people worldwide and identifies quality improvement opportunities and provide clinicians trustworthy, evidence-based recommendations regarding the identification and management of ARHL in patients 50 years and older, according to the publication.

“Age-related hearing loss is underdiagnosed and undertreated despite being the most common sensory deficit in the aging population,” says Betty S. Tsai Do, MD, the CPG Development Group Chair. “With almost 50% of the population over 75 reporting hearing loss, having a clinical practice guideline allows all clinicians to provide better healthcare 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 the older population. Between the ages of 65 to 74, one in three adults experience hearing loss. ARHL is a type of hearing loss that occurs over time as individuals age. It develops gradually and symmetrically, meaning it affects both ears similarly and is associated with various sociodemographic factors and health risks including dementia, depression, cardiovascular disease, and falls. It is caused by both genetic and environmental factors such as exposure to loud noises, medication that can harm the ears, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Further reading: Factors Associated with Age-Related Hearing Loss Differ Between Sexes

New Guidelines for Clinicians

This guideline presents clinicians with an evidenced-based framework, which includes 11 evidenced-based Key Action Statements (KAS), to prioritize identifying patients at risk of ARHL as well as managing it.

“I am excited to see a key action statement focusing on social determinants of health and how it impacts access and patient preferences on the management of hearing healthcare. The focus of individualized healthcare is the future of medicine, and as such, it is important that this CPG incorporated that into the recommendations,” says Tsai Do.

Hearing Loss Guideline Recommendations

The ARHL clinical practice guideline recommends that all patients aged 50 and above should be screened for hearing loss because detecting hearing loss early and taking appropriate steps can help minimize the negative effects associated with untreated hearing loss.  

“Our guideline development group used the AAO-HNSF methodology to create evidence-based recommendations on the management of age-related hearing loss. We hope that the CPG will be useful in improving awareness and decreasing the morbidity of untreated age-related hearing loss in an effort to improve a patient’s overall health and quality of life,” says Tsai Do.

The guideline development group (GDG) consisted of experts in otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), otology (ear), audiology (hearing), neurology (nervous system, including the brain), geriatrics (care of aging population) and primary care. The group also included a consumer representative, a public health expert, and staff members from the AAO-HNSF.

Photo: Mark Paton, Unsplash, CC0