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 of dementia is doubled in individuals with only slight hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
- Someone with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
The study showed that when someone has hearing loss, their brain atrophies faster. The brain is put under stress that can lead to damage because it has to work harder to do things like maintaining balance.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. More expensive medical bills are the result of all of these factors.
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 buster 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.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were analyzed. People with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care expenses compared to people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
That amount continues to grow as time goes by. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after a ten year period. Those numbers, when analyzed, average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are involved in the increase are:
- Cognitive decline
- Lower quality of life
A link between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:
- 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
The research by Johns Hopkins matches with this one.
Hearing Loss is Increasing
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- There’s considerable deafness in individuals between the ages of 45 to 54
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- Currently, two to three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
- About 15 percent of young people aged 18 have difficulty hearing
The number rises to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody over the age of 74. In the future, those figures are anticipated to go up. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.
The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can eliminate some of the health issues associated with hearing loss. Further studies are necessary to confirm if wearing hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to wear them than not to. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids are right for you.