Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
- A person with slight hearing loss doubles their risk of dementia
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
The study revealed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain needs to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, as well. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who doesn’t hear well. Depression is also more common. All these things 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 getting your hearing loss checked is a budget buster, also. This study was also led by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
They examined data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients over the age of 50 who had untreated hearing loss. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.
That number continues to increase over time. Over a decade, healthcare expenses increase 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
- Decline of cognitive ability
A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a connection between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
Those figures match with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Approximately 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are noticeably deaf
- Around 15 percent of young people 18 years old have difficulty hearing
- Currently, two to three of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- As many as 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
For those aged 64 to 74 the number rises to 25 percent and for people over 74 it rises to 50 percent. Those numbers are predicted 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 mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do know is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further research is needed to confirm if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It seems obvious there are more reasons to wear them than not. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.