Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- A person with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- A person with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage 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 depression. All these things add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Research
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you decide 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. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That number continues to increase as time goes by. Healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent after 10 years. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase such as:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those stats match with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- There’s considerable deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. To determine whether using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, further studies are needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.