Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- Someone with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
- An individual with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a faster pace 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.
The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, too. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you choose not to address your loss of hearing. This research was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
That amount continues to increase as time goes by. After a ten year period, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase including:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Approximately 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
- Hearing loss currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. In the future, those figures are anticipated to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. Further studies are needed to confirm if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.