Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
The study showed that when a person has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, also. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. All these things add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Research
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase such as:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
Those stats correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Around 2 percent of those aged 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Presently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. In the future, those numbers are expected to go up. As many as 38 million people in this country might have hearing loss by 2060.
Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To determine whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, additional studies are needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care specialist right now.