Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and found it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
The study showed that when a person has 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 injury.
Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, too. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. Depression is also more likely. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Study
The newest research published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget buster if you choose not to deal with your hearing loss. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 people over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this number continues to increase. After ten years, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 3.6 more falls
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:
- The simple act of hearing is hard for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- There’s significant deafness in individuals aged 45 to 54
The number goes up to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. Those numbers are anticipated to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t touch on how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What is recognized is that some health problems linked to hearing loss can be decreased by wearing hearing aids. To discover whether wearing hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare, further research is necessary. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.