Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person has hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, too. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these things 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 it starts to be a budget buster if you choose not to take care of your loss of hearing. This research 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 who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this number continues to grow. Over a ten year period, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. Those numbers, 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 companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
The research by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- About 2 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. To discover whether using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, more research is needed. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.