Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- A person with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a quicker rate when a person suffers from hearing loss. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, too. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
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 breaker if you choose not to address your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
77,000 to 150,000 patients with 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.
As time goes by, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after 10 years. Those figures, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A second companion study done by Bloomberg School indicates a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those stats match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- About 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- At this time, between two and three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for someone over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are expected to rise. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Using hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do know is that using 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, more studies are needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.