Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Somebody with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
- A person with minor hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
The study reveals that the brain atrophies at a quicker pace 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.
Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more common. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these issues.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, too. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also ran this study.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That number continues to increase as time goes by. Over a ten year period, healthcare expenses increase by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase including:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second associated study done by Bloomberg School indicates a link between untreated hearing loss and higher mortality. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
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:
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- The basic act of hearing is hard for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Around 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Currently, between two and three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.
Wearing hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t touch on. What is recognized is that some health problems associated with hearing loss can be decreased by using hearing aids. To determine whether wearing hearing aids diminishes the cost of healthcare, more studies are needed. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.