Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with minor to extreme hearing loss. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- Someone with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
The study showed that when somebody has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. 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 becomes a budget buster if you choose not to deal with your hearing loss. 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 people 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.
Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a decade. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
Those numbers correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- About 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are anticipated to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The study doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. To discover whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, further research is needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.