Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- An individual with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
The study revealed that when a person has 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. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.
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 deal with your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They examined 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 expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this amount continues to increase. Over a ten year period, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase including:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study conducted by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Presently, two to three of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Approximately 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- About 2 percent of people at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. 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 alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do understand is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. To discover whether using hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, additional research is necessary. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not to. To find out if hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.