Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years following adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant effect on brain health. For example:
- Dementia is five times more likely in somebody suffering from severe hearing loss
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
- The risk of dementia is doubled in individuals with only minor hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster 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.
Poor hearing has an effect on quality of life, too. A person who can’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more likely. 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 it becomes a budget breaker if you choose not to deal with your loss of hearing. This study was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They analyzed data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Only two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.
That amount continues to increase as time goes by. Over ten years, healthcare costs increase by 46 percent. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 3.6 more falls
Those numbers correlate with the study by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Loss of hearing presently impacts 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- There’s significant deafness in those between the ages of 45 to 54
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- The basic act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
The number goes up to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. As many as 38 million people in this country could have hearing loss by 2060.
Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t show. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can prevent some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. To figure out whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, more studies are needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.