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:
- A person with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
The study revealed that when someone has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, also. A person who doesn’t hear 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 it starts to be a budget breaker if you decide not to deal with your loss of hearing. This study was also run by experts 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 examined. 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 over time. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after a ten year period. Those statistics, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. 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 matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- The simple act of hearing is hard for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Loss of hearing presently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Approximately 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
The number rises to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. Over time, those figures are expected to go up. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further studies are necessary to confirm if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.