Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
- Somebody with a severe hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, as well. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.
The Newest Study
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you choose not to deal with your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.
That number continues to grow as time goes by. Over a decade, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- At this time, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- About 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- About 15 percent of young people 18 years old have difficulty hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is recognized is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Further research is necessary to determine if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist right away.