Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from slight to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a considerable impact on brain health. For example:
- A person with minor hearing loss has two times the risk of dementia
- The risk is triple for those with moderate loss of hearing
- A person with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
The study revealed that when somebody suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. Depression is also more common. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it starts to be a budget breaker if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.
They looked at data from 77,000 to 150,000 patients 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. Healthcare expenses rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. When you break those numbers down, they add up to an average of $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Decline of cognitive ability
A connection between untreated hearing loss and an increased rate of mortality is indicated by a second study conducted by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
Those stats correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on The Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is common in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- At this time, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- Approximately 2 percent of individuals at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing
The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Over time, those numbers are predicted to rise. As many as 38 million individuals in this country could have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The study doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though. What they do know is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. Further studies are required to confirm if using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. There are more reasons to wear them than not, undoubtedly. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.