Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers discovered that there was a considerable effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
- Someone with slight hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
- The risk is triple for people with moderate loss of hearing
The study showed that when somebody has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, as well. A person who can’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Research
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. This research was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care costs than people with normal hearing.
Over time, this number continues to increase. Healthcare costs go up by 46 percent after a decade. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 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 study by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s considerable deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
- The basic act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Presently, 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have 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 predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by the year 2060.
Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further studies are necessary to determine if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids are right for you.