Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
The study revealed that when a person has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, too. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. All these factors 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. This study was also led by researchers 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 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this number continues to grow. After a ten year period, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- About 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Loss of hearing presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- About 15 percent of young people 18 years old have trouble hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for people over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. In the future, those figures are expected to rise. As many as 38 million individuals in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Using hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What is known is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. Further studies are required to determine if wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not. To find out if hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.