Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:
- The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only slight hearing loss
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
The study showed that when somebody 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.
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 common. 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 not getting your hearing loss checked 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 created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this amount continues to grow. Over a ten year period, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
Those figures correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- At this time, between two and three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- About 15 percent of young people 18 years old have a hard time hearing
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
- There’s significant deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it rises to 50 percent. In the future, those figures are predicted to go up. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do know is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, additional studies are necessary. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to see if hearing aids are right for you.