Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- Somebody with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
The study revealed that when a person has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Research
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. This study was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They examined 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.
As time goes by, this number continues to grow. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after 10 years. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase like:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- About 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
- There’s considerable deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
- Presently, two to three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.
The research doesn’t touch on how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What is recognized is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. Further studies are required to confirm if wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.