Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
- A person with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
The study revealed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Study
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 research was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
That number continues to grow over time. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a decade. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those stats match with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s considerable deafness in people aged 45 to 54
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- The basic act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Over time, those figures are anticipated to rise. 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 know is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. Further research is needed to confirm if wearing hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.