Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
- Somebody with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate 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 like maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, too. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. All these things add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Study
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it starts to be a budget breaker if you choose not to deal with your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
As time goes by, this amount continues to grow. Healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent after 10 years. 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 connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
Those figures correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Around 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- The simple act of hearing is hard for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Presently, two to three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is understood is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be reduced by wearing hearing aids. Further research is necessary to determine if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not to. To learn whether hearing aids would help you, schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert right now.