Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- A person with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker rate when a person has hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more common. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it starts to be a budget buster if you decide not to take care of your hearing loss. This research was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They looked at 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 costs than individuals with normal hearing.
That amount continues to increase over time. Over a ten year period, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
The research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have difficulty hearing
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it rises to 50 percent. In the future, those numbers are anticipated to go up. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further studies are needed to determine if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids help you.