Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from slight 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
- Somebody with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- Someone with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
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. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than people with normal hearing.
Over time, this number continues to grow. Over a decade, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those figures, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase like:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 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:
- Around 2 percent of people aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- 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. In the future, those figures are expected to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is understood is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. Further research is necessary to confirm if wearing hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not to. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.