Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody who has severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
The study showed that when somebody suffers from 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 doesn’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. More expensive medical bills 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 not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. This research was also led 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 analyzed. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than individuals with normal hearing.
That number continues to grow as time goes by. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase like:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. 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
Those numbers correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
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
- Loss of hearing currently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- There’s significant deafness in people aged 45 to 54
- Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have difficulty hearing
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up 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 touch on how using hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. Further studies are necessary to confirm if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.