Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from minor to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable effect on brain health. For example:
- The risk is triple for those with moderate hearing loss
- A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of getting dementia
- The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
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 such as maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.
The Newest Research
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, too. This research was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had 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 grow. After a decade, healthcare costs go up by 46 percent. Those numbers, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in 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 mortality. Some other findings from this study are:
- 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 correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have loss of hearing
- The simple act of hearing is hard for about 15 percent of young people aged 18
- About 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do recognize is that wearing hearing aids can eliminate some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. To figure out whether wearing hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, further research is needed. There are more reasons to wear them than not, without a doubt. To learn whether hearing aids would benefit you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.