Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
The study showed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain needs to work harder to do things like 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 can’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.
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 buster if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. This study was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. 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 increase. Healthcare expenses go up 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 including:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
The study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Currently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- The basic act of hearing is challenging for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- About 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Those numbers are expected to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is known is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, more research is needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional right away.