Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable impact on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
- A person with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
The study showed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
The inability to hear has an effect on quality of life, also. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you decide not to deal with your loss of hearing. This study was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.
As time goes by, this number continues to grow. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after 10 years. When you analyze the numbers, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- The basic act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.
The research doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is known is that some health issues linked to hearing loss can be minimized by using hearing aids. Further studies are needed to confirm if using hearing aids lowers the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.