Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and found it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals 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 shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. All these things add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this number continues to increase. After ten years, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors associated with the increase including:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 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:
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- About 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Currently, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Hearing loss is widespread in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. As many as 38 million individuals in this country might have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can alter these figures, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is known is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. Further research is required to determine if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.